Can I file for a wrongful termination suit if I was fired for an altercation that was started by a co-worker?

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Can I file for a wrongful termination suit if I was fired for an altercation that was started by a co-worker?

I was fired from my job due to a altercation between me a co-worker and I. He threw a hat in my face and proceeded to shove me with his shoulder. I shoved him off me and that’s where it ended. Then I was told we both were at fault for it.

Asked on January 30, 2012 under Employment Labor Law, California

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

Did you have an employment contract? If so, you can only be fired in accordance with its terms. However, if not, your employer may terminate your employment at any time, for any reason. That means that they could choose to fire you because you were involved in an altercation with a fellow employee and shoved him, even if you feel that the other person initiated it. There is no "right" to self-defense at work, in the sense that it is legal for an employer to fire all employees involved in a contration or altercation, regardless of their roles in it; the employer may, in the absence of a contract, fire you for literally any reason.


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