You’ve worked so hard to land the job of your dreams, and a few years into the work, your employer slaps you with a termination letter, with or without notice. What are you to do?

Job loss is one of the most stressful experiences in life, and it’s worse if you have no idea about what to do or how to go about it. However, what many people fail to realize is that many times are being fired counts as wrongful termination. So, once they get the dismissal letter, all they do is pack their box and head home for pity parties. Don’t fall prey.

If you get fired from your job, the first and most crucial thing that you should do is to contact a wrongful termination lawyer. Why? Because it’s possible that your termination was illegal. According to the California wrongful termination law, an employee whose termination violates the employment contract – whether due to exercising their legal rights or for discriminatory reasons – may be entitled to wrongful termination lawsuit. And although the Californian law states that employees work at-will, there are a number of illegal reasons for termination which binds the employer from firing their employees.

So, when can you sue your employer for wrongful termination?

If your contract needs ‘cause” for termination

If your contract states that you will continue to work in the firm in question for a given length of time, or if it limits the ability of your employer to fire you (like, only for “good cause” or other unique reasons), then your employer has to hold their end of their bargain. However, if they go right ahead and fire you against the terms that are provided in the contract, then you could have a strong case against them. Keep in mind that an employment contract can be an oral or written agreement. The contract may also be suggested by your employer – for instance, if they mentioned that you have a job for as long as you deliver or that they only terminate employees who fail to meet the company’s performance standards.

If your employer discriminated against you

Employers may not have the rights to fire you based on specific characteristics. In California, these characteristics may include color, race, religion, national origin, sex, disability, age, sexual orientation, genetic information, citizenship status, gender identity, HIV/AIDS status, marital status, political activities or beliefs, medical condition or status as victim of stalking, assault or domestic violence. If your employer fires you because of any of these reasons, then you have a case to file.

If your employer retaliates against you

Your employee shouldn’t fire you because you exercised or tried to enforce your employment rights. For instance, it is illegal to be terminated for filing a complaint of harassment or discrimination, taking or requesting medical and family leave, filing your colleagues’ compensation claim, or complaining about hour practices and illegal wages. If they happen to fire you in retaliation of these aspects, then you have a strong case against them.

The California wrongful termination law also prevents employers from firing their employees due to a violation of public policy (like complaining about workplace illegality or refusing to commit an illegal act). They also cannot fire an employee from other personal injury claims, (like being terminated after a sexual assault by a manager and so on).