Employers in most states may hire and fire employees at will. There are certain exceptions to the rule, which is why employment contracts are so important, and both employees and employers should make sure they clearly understand the terminology in a prospective agreement before signing it. While employers in California may use their own discretion to add a new worker to the payroll or to let one go, there is no guarantee that a particular worker will not file a wrongful termination claim.
Employers will want to understand state employment laws and learn how to protect themselves against such claims. There are several things to keep in mind when hiring a new employee that may help avoid legal problems down the line, especially if the worker in question winds up getting fired from the job. If an employer is sued regarding termination issues, it is helpful to consult with an experienced attorney at the earliest opportunity.
Discrimination toward employees is against the law
Anti-discrimination laws provide that an employer may not fire a worker because of age, creed, race, ethnicity or other specific categories. An employer who wishes to avoid wrongful termination lawsuits will want to carefully review such laws and adhere to them. For instance, if an employer were to fire a woman because she is pregnant (but is still able to perform her duties) the employee could file a complaint.
Additional ways to keep legal trouble at bay
Employers can take certain measures to protect themselves against wrongful termination claims:
- Keep thorough employee performance records.
- Be aware of public policies and state or federal laws that are relevant.
- Be prepared to state a specific reason for firing a particular employee.
- Use email or other written correspondence to track communication with a worker regarding termination.
If a wrongful termination claim is filed, an employer may want to consult with an experienced California attorney at the first opportunity.