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Patrick, Esq.
Patrick, Esq., Lawyer
Category: California Employment Law
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Experience:  Significant experience in all areas of employment law.
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Can I file for wrongful termination against my employer? They

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Can I file for wrongful termination against my employer?
They told me that I have violated the company's attendance policy for two consecutive days without notification. My supervisor indicated he had sent me an e-mail disapproving vacation. I told him that I had submitted for two weeks but he said he only approved it for one week. I had re-submitted the vacation form and it had been approved. My supervisor later told me that my request is not in the system and has given me the option to sign papers or submit resignation.
Hello and thank you for entrusting me to answer your question. This sounds incredibly unfair and I can understand why you must be very upset by your employer's decision to let you go.

Unfortunately, the laws in this area strongly favor the employer (it is, after all the large corporations with all the money that lobby the state legislature).

Absent an employment contract guaranteeing you employment for a specified period of time, you are what is known as an "at will" employee. More specifically, California Labor Code Section 2922 provides that: "employment, having no specified term, may be terminated at the will of either party on notice to the other." What this means is that your employer is free to terminate you for any reason whatsoever, even a reason that is entirely unfair, unless the underlying motivation is discriminatory or otherwise in violation of California law.

While it would be extremely unfair for your employer to terminate you without providing notification that you had violated the attendance policy, this would not be illegal for the reasons stated above.

You do, however, have the following rights:

You have the right to be paid ALL outstanding wages IMMEDIATELY upon your termination (Labor Code 201). Further, your employer's willful failure to make such an immediate payment may result in the imposition of waiting time penalties against it. (Labor Code 203)

You also most likely will have the right to collect unemployment benefits. This is because an employee it typically only barred from receiving benefits if their termination was the result of WILLFUL misconduct.

Some typically examples of willful misconduct include showing up to work drunk, stealing from your employer, or yelling at employees. An honest mistake regarding approval for vacation would almost certainly not qualify as willful misconduct and so, assuming that all other eligibility requirements are met, an employee in this circumstance would typically be able to collect benefits.

I realize this is not what you were hoping to hear, and I wish that I could provide you with better news. Nonetheless, I sincerely XXXXX XXXXX this information helps you and I wish you the very best of luck. Bear in mind that none of the above constitutes legal advice nor is any attorney client relationship created between us.

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