Wrongful Termination Defense
In California, employment is at will. This means that an employer can fire an employee for any reason or even no reason. A termination can be arbitrary. However, employers must follow the laws that have been put in place for their employees’ protection, and they cannot fire an employee in violation of an employment contract or for discriminatory reasons. An employee who believes that they were terminated because of their membership in a protected class, or in violation of a term in their contract, may bring a wrongful termination lawsuit. The San Jose wrongful termination defense lawyers at SAC Attorneys can represent businesses in any ensuing litigation. We also conduct seminars to teach employers how to avoid wrongful termination claims and how to manage the delicate employer-employee relationship.Wrongful Termination Defense
Employers are not allowed to terminate an employee in violation of a law or the employment contract that governs the relationship. Sometimes an employment contract specifies that an employee can be terminated only for just cause during a certain time. If the employer terminates the employee for no reason during that time, it can face a wrongful termination lawsuit.
Several federal laws protect employees with certain characteristics from being adversely treated due to those characteristics. These include Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA), and other laws enforced by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). Title VII, for example, prohibits discrimination based on an employee’s race, sex, color, national origin, or religion. If you are covered by Title VII, you cannot terminate an employee because they are Middle Eastern or because they are Muslim, for example. However, sometimes an employee believes that they were terminated because of their membership in a protected class, but there actually was a valid reason for the termination. A wrongful termination defense attorney in San Jose can help show that the process was valid.
In California, the Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) also prohibits terminating an employee based on certain protected characteristics, including national origin, color, race, religion, sex, disability, age, genetic information, gender identity, sexual orientation, citizenship status, marital status, medical condition, AIDS/HIV status, political beliefs, status as a victim of domestic violence or assault or stalking, or military or veteran status.
When an employee claims that they have been terminated due to their membership in a protected class, your attorney should carefully investigate the circumstances surrounding the termination. Your employee handbook, notes of events and conversations, documented disciplinary actions, and testimony from other employees can be used to build a strong defense.
Federal and state laws provide for different timelines and procedures. When a discrimination charge is filed with the EEOC, the matter is directed toward conciliation. This is a kind of alternative dispute resolution that is similar to mediation. Conciliation involves the parties, their representatives, and EEOC officials. Conciliation can provide the best opportunity to resolve a case without going through expensive and time-consuming litigation. If conciliation does not result in a resolution, however, the case can proceed in federal court. Our San Jose wrongful termination defense attorneys can represent you in alternative dispute resolution processes and in court.Damages in Wrongful Termination Cases
One reason to consult an attorney when you are facing a wrongful termination lawsuit is that damages may be substantial if the employee establishes liability. These damages are capped if the employee brings their claim under federal law, based on the size of the employer. Damages can include back pay, front pay, and emotional distress damages. In circumstances in which an employee shows egregious misconduct, the employer may face punitive damages. We recognize the high stakes in these cases and will work tirelessly to prevent or minimize your exposure.Retain a Wrongful Termination Defense Attorney
Wrongful termination defense must be skillfully and carefully handled. Failing to adequately investigate and respond to a sensitive situation can result in substantial losses for your business, making it important to get a seasoned employment defense lawyer on the case as soon as possible. SAC Attorneys represents clients throughout Silicon Valley. Call (408) 436-0789 or use our online form to set up an appointment with a wrongful termination defense lawyer in San Jose.