The California Chamber of Commerce (CalChamber) drafted a report in 2019, outlining the most common mistakes employers make when they fail to set or abide by employee termination policies and laws. CalChamber noted that this often exposes employers to legal liability issues.
CalChamber notes that the requirements employers must meet to terminate an employee often vary depending on the reason for their dismissal.
One area in which CalChamber notes that employers should take caution is when they attempt to fire a worker for potential drug use. While they point out that California companies can require their workers to submit to drug testing, it’s only lawful for them to do so under limited circumstances. If you test an employee for an unlawful reason and then use their positive test results as grounds for firing them, then your former worker could sue you.
Discrimination is another big issue. There are both federal and state laws in place that prohibit employers from discriminating against employees who belong to certain protected classes. Your former worker may file a civil rights lawsuit against you if you dismiss them from their role for such an unlawful reason.
As an employer, you must also be careful not to terminate an employee who engages in whistleblowing or other protected activities. Both federal and state laws make it unlawful for employers to fire workers who report impropriety. These same laws may also make it illegal for employers to let employees who can’t report to their job site due to public services, legislative or judicial-related responsibilities go.
There are also specific rules that apply to plant owners who let their workers go because of their facilities’ impending closure. Even companies with at-will employees have guidelines to adhere to when terminating their workers.
Violating local, state or federal laws when terminating a California employee can be a costly mistake to make — and no employer wants to get caught up in litigation with an employee who has been fired.