You were just fired or demoted, but it doesn't seem fair. After all, it makes sense to get fired for stealing money from the company or intentionally lighting the office building on fire, but what if you didn't do anything wrong? What if you were let go because your boss didn't like the color of your tie, or the baseball team you follow, or the pictures of your dog you posted online? Is that legal?
According to The State Bar of California, it probably is.
Surprisingly, most employees don't have the right to "fair" treatment except under specific circumstances. This means that employers can typically fire, demote or suspend their employees for any reason - or no reason at all. While it's unfortunate, it's not illegal.
The Important Exceptions You Need To Know
While it's true that most people work as "at-will" employees and can be fired without a good reason, there are certain key exceptions. One of the most important exceptions is if your boss fires or disciplines you simply because of a protected personal characteristic, such as your race or age. This is considered discrimination and is not allowed.
Another exception is if your employer treats you unfairly or punishes you for reporting illegal activity in your workplace. For instance, if you report a serious safety violation to OSHA, your employer can't retaliate by demoting you.
Likewise, it's illegal for your boss to fire or discipline you for taking time off for jury duty.
What Happens If Your Boss Ignores The Rules?
If you believe one of these exceptions applies to your situation, and yet you were fired anyway, talk to an attorney skilled in employment law disputes. You may have a valid workplace discrimination or retaliation case. If so, you could potentially recover money for your losses.
Learn more about how the law applies to your unique case by scheduling a consultation with an experienced lawyer.