Cal. Labor Code 2922 provides that "An employment, having no specified term, may be terminated at the will of either party on notice to the other. Employment for a specified term means an employment for a period greater than one month." This law encompasses 99.9% of all employment relationships, and except in circumstances where an employee is blowing the whistle to law enforcement on some illegal employer activity, an employer can basicially tell you that your fired without any warning or reason at all. I refer to this as the "brushing your teeth with the wrong hand firing." The employer can fire you for brushing your teeth with your right hand, and if you switch hands, then the employer can fire you for not brushing your teeth with your right hand. Absurd, but that's how the law is written.
The fact that you were induced to travel cross country in reliance upon the employer's promise of employment, actually creates an enforceable contract. But, because the employer can end that contract "at will," under Labor Code 2922, you can't get damages for the termination, because you agreed to a deal in which your employment could be terminated at any time and without prior notice or compensation.
That's the bad news. You are left with but one option: sex discrimination (legally, you can claim age discrimination as well, but that's usually the most dificult form of discrimination to prove, so generally speaking avoiding it is usually the best practice).
You claim that you are a woman employed in an "old boys network." You need to be able to prove that, either statistically, by showing that you are practically along as a woman in your job and every man is constantly either telling sex-related jokes, or talking in a derogatory manner about women, such as a supervisor's wife, etc., and that no matter where you go or what you do, you are constantly confronted with some man treating you like a second-class citizen.
You need some other employee who will corroborate your claims. Obviously, another woman would be good, but if you can find a male coworker to offer to testify in your behalf, then that would be a lot
better. This won't be easy to find -- but, you must find someone, if you want to crush your opponent. Also, if you can get a supervisor to admit to a certain bias in the organization against women, e.g., in a email, that, too, would be good. My experience is that supervisors love to show their ass, and sometimes you can get someone to say what they really think by offering them the opportunity to do so. I can't say where or when these opportunities will arise, but you only need a few, because once you have them, that gives a good employment rights lawyer, or the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing, what it needs to start trying to build a statistcal case of sex discrimination.
Sex discrimination can be found in direct harassment (the best possible case), retaliation against a claim of sex discrimination, in disparate hiring and promotion of men vis-a-vis women, and in unequal wages/salary and benefits for equally qualified workers.
Large employers take great pains to deter these types of bias, but they creep in over time, because where people actually think a certain way, that thinking ultimately pervades the organization. All business take on the predispositions of their executive management, because the egos of the management require that their belief system be validated as correct.
Anyway, that's the broad brush. I can't tell you exactly where to find your witness or your email or other evidence, but you need to find these things or you are sunk -- and frankly, based upon your descriptino of circumstances, my impression is that you are already on a track to be "managed out" of the organization. That's how it's done: a slow and inexorable pressure to do the impossible or impractical until either the employee breaks and quits, or the employer can show a pattern of sub-optimal performance.
And, when I say sub-optimal, I don't mean that you're underperforming your peers, because when confronted, the employer will never explain exactly how you are underperforming. HR and your supervisor will simply state that you aren't cutting it, and you need to improve. Then they will hand you a performance plan that no one can possibly fullfil, and demand that you sign it to acknowledge receipt. And, slowly but surely you will be managed out of the biz.
The only way to avoidd this is to find the employer's "achillies heel," and exploit it to your advantage. This is a lot of work, because you have to do your job while always being on the lookout for discrimination and a witness and/or documents that show discrimination.
But, if you want to fight back, then that's what you have to do. Otherwise, you may as well dust off your resume right now, contact a professional staffing firm and have them try to find you new employment before you lose your current employment -- because, more than likely your employment with the current organization is probably short lived.
Hope this helps.
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