Do you think you have been fired unfairly?
"Wrongful Termination" is a term that generally refers to a person being fired when they shouldn't have been. It can be a very misleading phrase; consequently many terminations that people think of as "wrongful" are not illegal.
At Will Employment.
In California and most other states, employment is "at will". This means that the employer can fire the employee for no reason or any reason. The employer, however, cannot fire the employee for illegal reasons.
The illegal reasons are explained below:
Employers cannot discriminate against employees on the basis of age, race, sex, national origin, pregnancy, disability, religion, sexual orientation and a variety of other protected classes. Additionally, employers cannot discriminate against or terminate an employee for making wage complaints or sexual harassment complaints or because he or she has "whistle blown" which is reporting illegal activity of the employer.
They also cannot discriminate against an employee for engaging in other protected activities, such as filing workers' compensation claims. If an employer fires an employee because of one of these factors, that is against the law, and the employee can sue.
If any employee has a contract with the employer, the employee probably cannot be fired without just cause. Contracts can be written or implied (See section on Breach of Contract). A common way for an employee to have a written contract is to be in a union.
What is wrongful termination?
If the employer fires an employee because of race or another illegal reason, that is "wrongful termination". If the employer fires the employee in violation of a contract, that is not, in legal terms,"wrongful termination"; it is "breach of contract".