Being fired may not be enough for an employment lawsuit

As part of our corporate counseling practice, we often review terminations or adverse actions for both employees and employers and help clients determine whether the law was broken.

One of the biggest misconceptions that exists in California (and federal) employment law is that simply being terminated is enough grounds to bring a lawsuit. In California, it's actually the opposite - employment is considered "at will" (meaning the company can terminate or the employee can leave) at any time. Of course, if there is a contract between the employee and the Company that provides for termination in a specific manner, then it is certainly true that the contract may have been breached.

Another misconception is that a bad boss can be grounds for a lawsuit. Again, this generally is not the case, either. Simply having an arrogant, overbearing or unprofessional boss is not enough to make a claim for harassment or illegal conduct.

California law protects people from harassment and discrimination on the basis of a protected class. If a Company fires someone because that person was a woman, or treats someone poorly because that person is a woman, California law has likely been violated. And certainly, someone with poor management skills may be at greater risk of such claims. But California law requires more than simply being let go, or having a jerk for a boss, in order to bring a claim -- for better or for worse.