Losing a job, working in a hostile environment or working with the fear of losing your job can have an extremely negative effect on every aspect of your life. At The Law Offices of Schurmer & Wood we understand the power imbalance the often exists in the workplace and are committed to helping employees resolve the current conflict, obtain the compensation they are entitled to and move forward with their lives. If you or a loved one has been wrongfully terminated or you have questions about what conduct is acceptable in the workplace, we encourage you to take a look at the information we have provided here and contacts us with your questions.
Many wrongful termination and other employment cases hinge on whether or not the employers conduct was based on the employee’s status as a member of a protected class.
Many Californians are under the mistaken belief that their employer can terminate their employment for any reason or no reason at all, if their employment agreement was an “at will” agreement. While it is true that “at will” employment agreements allow for more flexibility than other employment contracts, your employer is not allowed to fire you for any illegal reasons, regardless of the language of the contract. At The Law Offices of Schurmer & Wood we have represented clients who have been fired under “at will” employment agreements where the real motive for the termination was the employee’s status as a member of a protected class.
Proving illegal or wrongful termination cases rarely comes down to specific statements or admissions by an employer that the employee was fired because of his religion, gender or other protected characteristic (although that happens on occasion). Most wrongful termination cases are supported by small bits of evidence, which when taken as a whole, form a picture of discrimination and illegal conduct. Our talented attorneys will fully investigate the circumstances surrounding your termination and can often build a persuasive case based on these pieces of evidence.
At The Law Offices of Schurmer & Wood we often receive calls from people who are working in unpleasant or terrible work environments who are looking to pursue a claim against their employer. Unfortunately, in California the law doesn’t require employers to provide enjoyable, supportive or positive work environments. Surprisingly, the law doesn’t even require employers to treat each of their employees equally, which means that being singled out by a negative boss for no apparent reason isn’t enough to support an employment claim. In order to bring an action against an employer, the employee must prove they were working in a hostile work environment. A hostile work environment under the law is a work environment that is unbearable to work in because a boss, supervisor, manager or other individual is treating the employee differently because they are a member of a protected class.
We generally advise against quitting a job because of a hostile work environment. Sometimes the environment is just too unbearable and an employee must quit in order to preserve his/her mental and physical health. In cases where the work environment becomes so hostile that the employee must quit, he or she may be able to bring a case against the employer for constructive termination and may proceed with the case as if he/she had been terminated.
Compensation in wrongful termination cases can be tricky because each case is different. In some situations, the employee will only be entitled to be compensated for his/her lost wages and the loss of the benefits associated with the job. In other situations the employee may also be entitled to compensation for emotional distress, punitive damages and attorney’s fees. Because each case involves a complex set of individual factors, consulting with an experienced wrongful termination attorney is the best way to evaluate the potential success of your claim, as well as the value of the claim.
If you or a loved one has been subject to a hostile work environment or recently terminated for something you believe is unfair or illegal, we encourage you to contact us to discuss the specifics of your case. At The Law Offices of Schurmer & Wood we offer free, no obligation consultations to all clients considering wrongful termination cases and are happy to speak with you about your specific situation.