Sausalito Wrongful Termination Lawyer

San Francisco Employment Law Attorneys

California is an "at-will" state. That means that unless an employee is employed under a union contract ("collective bargaining agreement") or an employment contract for term, most employers are free to discharge an employee at any time with or without cause and with or without notice and employees are free to quit at any time. However, under certain circumstances the law affords a remedy when the termination is wrongful.

What is wrongful termination?

Wrongful termination (a.k.a. a Tameny claim) is a common law cause of action that arises when an employer discharges an employee for an unlawful purpose and which violates a public policy.

Generally, wrongful termination cases fall under four general categories. These are: terminations in violation of a statute that expressly prohibits an employer from discharging an employee for a specified reason; terminations for exercising constitutional or statutory rights or privileges; terminations for refusing to engage in unlawful conduct; and terminations for reporting unlawful activities by the employer or others at work ("whistleblowing").

Examples of cases in which employees were wrongfully terminated in violation of public policies include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Employee terminated because of his/her physical disability, religion, gender, race, national origin, medical condition, marital status or sexual orientation
  • Employee is fired for refusing to sign a covenant not to compete
  • Employee is discharged for reporting on the employer's failure to pay overtime wages
  • Employee is discharged for reporting on the employer's failure to provide meal periods or rest breaks
  • Employer discharges employee to avoid paying him accrued commissions and vacation pay
  • Employee is laid off for reporting the misappropriation of public funds
  • Employee is fired for reporting sexual harassment
  • Employee is terminated for testifying or participating at a court hearing, deposition, or investigation regarding a co-worker's complaint for harassment or discrimination
  • Employee is suspended without pay for discussing wages with his co-workers
  • Employee is terminated for demanding to be paid the same wages as her male counterparts

Is actual termination required in order to sue under a Tameny Claim?

No, the ultimate penalty of termination need not occur in order to sue under a Tameny claim. Tameny claims may be maintained by employees who are suspended or laid off without pay for reasons that violate public policy.

Can an independent contractor sue on a claim for wrongful termination?

No, only employees, as opposed to independent contractors, may sue on a Tameny claim. The law requires the existence of an employer-employee relationship in order to sue on a wrongful termination claim.

We, at the DeVito Law Group, understand that losing one's job is one of the most detrimental events that an employee may experience. Contact us today, if you believe that you have been wrongfully terminated.


From its law office in Sausalito, California, The DeVito Law Group serves clients in Alameda, Oakland, San Francisco, San Mateo, San Jose, San Rafael, Walnut Creek, Berkley, Modesto, San Mateo County, Marin County, Contra Costa County, Santa Clara County, Sonoma County, Napa County, San Joaquin County, and Stanislaus County.