Understanding employee rights after termination

When a person in California is terminated from employment, he or she often goes through a difficult and uncertain time. If fired, it could benefit most workers to understand their employee rights. Also, it could be helpful for employees to understand what resources they have available for assistance during this time of transition.

First, it could be useful to understand the reasons for termination that are considered illegal. Most states and employment contracts are "at will," which means that an employer can terminate an employee at any time, for any reason, unless the reason is unlawful. For example, terminations that occur in retaliation because an employee reports illegal actions by the company, or those that are due to an employee serving jury duty or military service, are not legal.

A second right that a terminated employee has is the right to receive a final pay check. The rules regarding this vary from state-to-state. In California, the law requires the employer to give the employee his or her final pay check at the time they are terminated.

Third, employees have the right to maintain health coverage for a limited period after termination. This benefit is covered under the COBRA act of 1986. If fired, employees are typically required to pay the full premium for health care costs, but can remain on the company's health plan as they seek another position. Finally, a terminated employee could qualify to receive unemployment compensation. The amount available is based upon a percentage of the person's pay and can last for an initial 26 weeks.

If workers in California believe their employee rights have been violated, it could benefit them to seek the counsel of an attorney. An employment law attorney will be in the best position to evaluate a client's case. They can also discuss the legal options available if an employer engages in unlawful activity during the course of termination.

Source: FindLaw, "Employee Rights after a Job Termination", Accessed on Aug. 26, 2016

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