Harmeet Dhillon discusses California Employment law and new challenges posed by the age of technology on KPIX 5.
According to Dhillon:
We’re in a world today where you are on camera pretty much any time you’re in public. And under California law, and the law of most states in America, you can be fired for any reason or no reason at all, as long as it isn’t one of the few protected categories under our civil rights laws.
There are a few exceptions. So, if you have a union contract, for example, that may specify the reasons for termination. If you are an executive with a contract that specifies the reasons for termination, then you’re protected, but if you are the vast majority of Americans who are employed at-will, then the employer can terminate you for virtually any reason, including, you know, the color of your shirt or your tie, or the way you look, or certainly a road rage incident, or something you post on social media that may be viewed as undesirable by the employer.
To the employer, the issue is that, because of your behavior, you have potentially cost them customers or brought the company to disrepute and they don’t want to have picketers outside their office because you said something racist or obnoxious, and so they get to fire you. That is generally the case.
You might get fired, but you might have recourse under certain circumstances, and it really goes to whether you had an expectation of privacy at that time. If you’re on the road, you don’t. If you are in a restaurant or a public place, you don’t. If you are in the restroom of a Starbucks or something and there is surreptitious camera there, then you certainly have a right to privacy in those situations. But otherwise, pretty much you should assume that if you are in public, you should be on good behavior.
The legislature could change some of these laws and give workers more protection, so they also probably have to resolve their case in arbitration, which is another area where you don’t have any rights.