It can be very frustrating to lose your job. It's even more frustrating if you were fired for illegitimate reasons. Illegal firing is often called wrongful termination. California law offers employees many rights, including protection against various types of wrongful termination.
In San Jose, as in many other California cities, the most common wrongful termination claim is discrimination. An employer discriminates when it treats someone differently due to sex, race, religion, sexual orientation, or another protected trait. If your boss fires you because you are a woman, or because you are gay, you should contact an experienced employment lawyer immediately, as this is illegal.
Retaliation is another form of wrongful termination. Retaliation occurs when an employee is fired for complaining about illegal behavior or for exercising a legal right. For example, you may not be fired for complaining about sexual harassment (either to your HR department or to an outside government agency), complaining about wage and hour problems at your company (like failure to pay overtime or denying you legally required breaks), or reporting illegal activity at your company to government regulators. Similarly, you may not be fired for exercising your right to take family and medical leave, filing for workers' compensation following a workplace injury, or taking time off for military service.
In addition to discrimination and retaliation, there are a number of other types of wrongful termination claims. In a breach of contract case, for example, the employee alleges that the employer fired him or her in violation of the contract's requirements (usually, that the employee may be fired only for good cause). In a defamation case, the employee claims that the employer intentionally said false things about him or her, either to justify the termination or to prevent the employee from getting a new job.
If you believe that you are a victim of wrongful termination, meet with a lawyer. Your lawyer will go over the details of the termination with you so that you can accurately determine whether or not your firing was, in fact, illegal. A lawyer can also help you figure out whether the damages you might receive are worth the time and money a lawsuit will require. If you decide to proceed, your lawyer will then represent you in court and in negotiations with your former employer, to try to resolve the case in your favor.