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Can you be fired based on nepotism?

You've been working at a company in San Fransisco for five years. You've done a terrific job. Your record is clean and your numbers speak for themselves.

Then your boss's adult child gets a job at the company. He or she starts out slightly higher than anyone else who joins and continues to quickly rise. You feel like your boss is playing favorites, but you keep doing your job well.

Until they fire you. Your numbers didn't slip. You didn't break the workplace rules. You weren't even told why you were being fired.

The kicker is this: Your boss hands your old job over to that child. It's then that you realize nepotism cost you your job. Clearly, your boss is just giving it to a family member.

This may not be fair, but it's probably not illegal. Typically, workers in California are not given any assurances, but are hired as "at-will" employees. This just means either side can end the business relationship. You can quit or they can fire you. A reason isn't needed.

There are exceptions to this. Some companies have procedures in place that mean you can't be fired without reason. You also have legal protections so that you can't be fired because of your age, gender, race or other things of this nature.

However, as long as these protected classes aren't breached, you can be fired without a reason, just because of nepotism.

Do you think the firing was actually illegal? Was it more than nepotism, and were your rights violated? If so, be sure you know about all of your legal options.

Source: Inquirer, "When is an employment termination ‘wrongful’ in California?," Joe Sayas, accessed June 30, 2017

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