What is Considered as Wrongful Termination in California?

Updated: Sep 22

Know considered wrongful termination and when you should seek the advice of an Employment Lawyer in Los Angeles?


In 2018, in a wrongful termination case that, on the surface, seemed to revolve around the theft of $636, a California Superior Court awarded a former Chipotle manager nearly $8 million in compensation.

Chipotle argued that Jeannette Ortiz was terminated from her job because she stole $636 from the local restaurant she managed. Chipotle reported during the trial that it had a recording of the robbery, but before the trial, someone damaged the footage.


Chipotle also said that it threw away all correspondence, documents, and memos about the former manager's dismissal. Ms. Ortiz claimed she never stole any money and claimed that Chipotle had deliberately fired her because of her past workers' compensation lawsuits and pregnancies. The California court eventually sided with Ms. Ortiz.

Employees in California have the right, under federal law, to apply for employee health insurance for on-the-job accidents and, if eligible, to take time off under the Family Medical Leave Act for pregnancies. It is illegal for an employer in California to fire a worker for exercising their rights under these laws in retaliation.


How to File a Case for Wrongful Termination in California


In California Employment Law, Wrongful Termination is said to have happened when an individual has been fired for illegal reasons, such as discrimination or abuse. In other words, in violation of state or federal laws, an employee who has been dismissed unfairly will file a wrongful termination claim requesting reimbursement for damages.

It is also illegal to fire an employee in California either because they have filed a legal case against the employer or because, as a whistleblower, an employee has brought the employer's misconduct report to light. This form of action is called "retaliatory." If you think that you have been a victim of wrongful termination in Los Angeles, there are some steps that you need to take in order to defend your rights.

Document all evidence to support your wrongful termination claim


The evidence you can deliver showing were wrongfully terminated is crucial in a wrongful termination case. It is necessary to ensure that you have written proof of comments and other facts that you may be able to use during the proceedings to show wrongful termination in a California lawsuit. This could be anything as basic as your employer's negative remark. If you are reporting a statement, make sure that you include the time, place, and names of individuals present when the comment was made.

It helps to be organized by generating evidence of all events leading to your termination. Be consistent with keeping all bits of evidence that are important to your argument in written documents. Specifically, here are some of the documents that are important to support your wrongful termination claim in California:

  • Official documents.

  • Your personnel file.

  • Your letter of termination or notice of layoff. If you have been terminated face to face, write down the specifics, if any, of the conversation with your supervisor or manager. Have the time, date, and location where it happened so that you have reliable records.

  • Your work evaluations and performance reviews.

  • Handbooks and/or employee manuals.

  • The employment contract if possible.

  • Union documentation or contracts.

  • Documentation of official messages, such as emails or memos.

  • Paychecks and stubs. To help you calculate how much compensation is owed to you as a result of the wrongful termination, these are important.

  • Coworker interviews. If your coworkers have encountered prejudice, abuse, or some form of unequal treatment, their statements may be highly useful to your situation.

  • Keep records relevant to your case in a position where you can quickly access them. Know that you will lose access to records and files saved on your work computer when you are terminated. This is why keeping records and copies at home is a smart idea.

If you need an Employment Lawyer in Los Angeles, do not rely on lawyer's ads or marketing materials.

The complexity of a wrongful termination case can be difficult and complicated for an average person. Hiring any California Employment Attorney is a bad idea, Los Angeles county alone has the highest number of disciplinary actions against California lawyers who commit unethical acts. (check our attorney discipline section for more details)


If you don't have time to conduct due diligence when looking for a good Los Angeles Employment Lawyer, get an unbiased lawyer referral from an accredited organization.

An ethical and experienced Los Angeles Employment Lawyer will assist in evaluating all the facts and specifics of your case, looking at your particular situation, and giving you his or her determination. An employment attorney in Los Angeles would also understand what the federal, state and local laws are and how they relate to your circumstance.

Initial employment law consultations are always free when you get a referral to fitting Los Angeles Employment Lawyers. So, it will not cost you anything to get the initial assessment with a consultation. Moreover, you'll have peace of mind knowing the employment attorney in Los Angeles has been vetted and that all credentials are in order.


Once you hire an Employment Lawyer in Los Angeles to represent you in a wrongful termination claim, you'll enter into a contingency compensation deal, where the attorney only gets compensated for his or her efforts if the case is successful and won in your favor.

Employment Law Firms in California usually get a percentage of the sum that is awarded. You won't have to pay official costs associated with the case upfront, such as legal fines, fees for facilities, expenses for court reporters, etc. It's always a good idea to have one of our prescreened Los Angeles wrongful termination attorneys explain all expenses in detail before you enter into an agreement.


How To File Wrongful Termination Claim in California

A pre-screened and experienced Los Angeles Employment Lawyer will also know where the case needs to be filed. Generally, the location where you file will depend on the reason for your wrongful termination. For example, either in a state or a federal court, a case claiming breach of contract is brought in civil court.


The EEOC (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission) or the relevant state agency will file unfair termination claims arising from discrimination in the workplace. You will be entitled to take further action against your employer if the EEOC finds the wrongful termination claim legitimate.

The EEOC has a self-assessment method to find out if it is necessary to file a case with the EEOC. You will be represented by your top employment lawyers in California to write your case. The notice must be served to your former employer, which can be accomplished by registered mail and return receipt submitted through the county sheriff and a competent process server.


Your claim must be filed with the court clerk after the notice has been served. It would be possible for competent Los Angeles wrongful termination attorneys to ensure that these critical protocols are followed so that the case progresses smoothly through the system.

top wrongful termination attorney los angeles

How To Prove Wrongful Termination Claim in California

There are several ways to prove that the employment termination has been wrongful and unconstitutional. The following procedure and measures are involved in bringing the case to court:

The phase of Discovery: Both sides must exchange all relevant documentation and evidence used during the trial to support the case before a case goes to court. The discovery process typically has three elements. A "written discovery" entails each group presenting the other with written questions. These questions are known as "interrogatories." Unless there is a legal excuse not to do so, each question must be answered.


Each side will ask to see important documents during the "document production" phase of the discovery process. This may include the employee's employment records, employee handbooks, policy manuals, etc., in a wrongful termination situation.


Finally, the other side and any witnesses in the case should be interviewed by either side. Those that are deposed will be under oath, and a court reporter will document the interviews. During a deposition, the comments made can sometimes be used during the trial.


Alternative settlement of disputes: Before the case goes to trial, the bulk of wrongful termination cases in California are settled out of court. You will have the ability to consider whether it would be more desirable to mediate or arbitrate than to go to court. Before setting a trial date, some courts can require both parties to attempt mediation. With the aid of a neutral third party, mediation is a process that can help parties find a compromise. Arbitration is a streamlined trial where it makes simpler the laws of Discovery and procedures.


To go to trial: Your case can proceed to trial if both parties cannot negotiate a settlement for compensation and if mediation or arbitration has not been helpful. Both sides will show their proof and evidence during a trial. Concerning the outcome of the case, a judge or jury will make the final decision.


How much will you settle your wrongful termination case for?

You may be wondering what your wrongful termination case is worth if you are considering suing an employer for wrongful termination. Usually, depending on the damages, which are the injuries you have suffered due to the wrongful termination, your settlement will be measured in these types of cases. With records and other evidence, you will be allowed to show these damages or losses.

What Damages Will you Expect from a Claim for Wrongful Termination?

As part of your wrongful termination settlement, you will be entitled to receive the following forms of monetary damage:


Wages lost as a result of being wrongfully terminated: This applies to any back pay you would have gained if you had been working. This includes incentives, some kind of interest, wage rises, including the cost of living changes, and promotional pay increases. In such cases, claimants are expected to "mitigate" their damages, which suggests that they are expected to pursue a similar job as soon as possible. If the employer may show that the employee has failed to do so, the mitigated sums measured will be removed from the settlement. If the fired worker seeks a new job with lower wages, Missed Front Pay can be reported.


Lost benefits as a result of being wrongfully terminated: Benefits are a large portion of the pay packages of most employees. So, after a wrongful termination, they must be included in estimates showing an economic loss. Healthcare coverage, pension plans, retirement savings, equity options, and transportation reimbursements are included in the benefits.


Medical benefits lost as a result of being wrongfully terminated: If the terminated employee's health policy has changed and he or she incurs extra medical costs, these will be included in the lawsuit.


The cost associated with searching for new employment: Many who are searching for a job can incur costs as well. Studies indicate that plaintiffs who sued for this form of injury earned three times higher average payout than those who did not.


Emotional Distress as a result of wrongful termination: This is also known as pain and suffering reimbursement. If the actions of the employer caused the employee emotional distress, a jury would award those damages. Such harm may be checked by a psychologist or psychiatrist's testimony.


Attorney's fees and court costs to file a wrongful termination lawsuit: You will also recover money to cover all legal fees.