In most cases, California workers are at-will employees. This means that they can be terminated from their jobs without cause at any time. Employers are generally under no obligation to explain their decision or to give notice that the employee is going to be let go. However, employment laws protect employees from being fired for discriminatory reasons. These laws also protect employees from being fired in retaliation for reporting misdeeds or similar "whistleblower" activities.
If an employee is fired for an illegal reason, then wrongful termination has taken place. Employees who suffer as the result of a wrongful termination have recourse. They can often sue their former employers and receive compensation for the unfair treatment.
One California swimming coach has recently sued her former boss alleging wrongful termination. Her boss was the former U.S. National Swim Coach and had led swimming teams to the both the Athens and Beijing Olympics. He now runs a club in Southern California where he worked with the terminated swim coach.
According to the law suit, the coach was fired after she found out and reported allegations of sexual abuse between underage swimmers and a third swimming coach. She reported the behaviors to her boss and to USA Swimming -- the sport's governing body. USA swimming began to investigate the third swim coach, yet her boss, refused to keep children away from the coach under investigation.
The fired coach then began to ensure children's safety by keeping them from the third coach. She was fired shortly thereafter by the head of the swimming club.
The suit does not list a specific amount of money that the fired coach is asking for. However, the suit does make it clear that she would like to change the culture of the sport with this lawsuit. This coach and other whistleblowers do important work in ensuring that their employers are doing the right thing, they have a right to protected for stepping up for the rights of others.
Source: USA Today, "Former U.S. national swim coach Schubert faces lawsuit," Sept. 18, 2012