Can You Be Fired for Your Political Views or Activity in California?
California’s designation as an at-will employment state means an employer can terminate an employee for any reason, so long as that reason is not illegal. In a year when politics and civil protest have dominated the headlines, a topic worth visiting in 2020 is whether employers can fire employees in California because of the employees’ political views or activities.
Can Your Employer Legally Fire You for Your Political Views or Activity?
Simply put: No. What’s more, it is illegal for an employer to retaliate against an employee in any way over the employees’ political views or activity.
California’s Labor Code 1101 and 1102 make it illegal for employers to:
- Terminate employment or retaliate in any other way against an employee for their political views, beliefs, or activity
- Adopt or enforce any rule, policy, or regulation preventing employees from participating in political activity
- Adopt or enforce any rule or policy in an attempt to control or direct an employee’s political activity
- Control or direct the political activity or affiliations of employees by threatening to fire them or retaliate in any other way
- Coerce or influence any employee (e.g., by threatening to fire them) to adopt or follow any particular course or line of political activity
Examples of Retaliation for Political Views or Activity
If you were fired for your political views or activity, you might have a retaliation case against your employer. Examples of illegal retaliation because of an employee’s political opinions or activity include:
- Being fired for taking part in the Black Lives Matter movement
- Being demoted after writing a Facebook post about your intention to vote for a particular candidate while your employer supports a different candidate in the same election
- Being fired for campaigning for a candidate for public office when your employer supports another candidate
These are only a few examples of political retaliation that is illegal in California.
What do you do if Your Employer Violated Labor Code 1101 or 1102?
A violation of these sections of the labor code could be grounds for a lawsuit against your employer. Depending on the circumstances of retaliation, you could be able to seek compensation for the loss of income and/or benefits, as well as damages such as pain and suffering.
If you believe you were a victim of illegal political retaliation at work, you should speak to an attorney qualified in employment law.
Here at Obagi Law Group, P.C., our experienced employment attorneys can help you determine whether your employer violated Labor Code 1101 or 1102 — or other federal or state law. It is also important to understand whether exceptions to California’s at-will employment apply to your particular case. Speak with one of our Los Angeles employment lawyers by calling 424-284-2401, and sign up for our newsletter to learn more about your legal rights at work.
This post is informational only and should not be understood as legal advice. This post does not create an attorney-client relationship.