top of page

Who Can File A Wrongful Termination Claim In California?

Updated: Jun 7, 2022

Wrongful Termination Claims For Different Types Of California Employees

Wrongful Termination Claims in California protect workers from getting fired for illegal reasons. However, "At-Will" workers, who work at their employer's discretion, might be confused as to whether they can qualify for Wrongful Termination Claims.

The short answer is yes. Even "At-Will" employees are protected from getting fired for illegal reasons. So let's discuss your employment rights in California, particularly in cases of termination:

los angeles wrongful termination lawyers

Who Can File A Claim For Wrongful Termination?

When it comes to wrongful termination, whether you signed a contract or worked as an "at-will" employee will determine whether you are eligible to submit a claim.

Here's the difference:

  1. Employees on Contracts. An employment contract is defined as a written agreement between an employer and an employee that outlines the terms of the employee's employment as well as the grounds for terminating it. If you are fired before the number of months or years your contract says you'll work with the employer, then it might be considered a breach.

  2. At-Will Workers. If there is no employment contract in effect, the job status defaults to at-will employment. If the employee is not in a protected class, at-will work means that any party can end the employment relationship at any time and for any reason. As a result, many unfair termination lawsuits stem from the termination of someone in that covered class who is also an at-will employee.

However, both types of employees have the right to be protected against being fired on illegal grounds. While at-will employees may not be able to sue for breach of contract (since there are no contracts in the first place), they can still file a Wrongful Termination claim if they were fired for reasons that were not justified.

So while you may be working at your employer's discretion, you might still have valid grounds for wrongful termination. Employers can fire at-will employees for no reason. Still, they cannot fire employees as an act of discrimination, retaliation, or a violation of public policy.

What Is At-Will Employment and How Does It Work?

Workers or employees who are not covered by a union or other employment contracts in the United States are generally working at will. In essence, it means that a worker can quit at any moment and for any cause. Likewise, employers can fire them for any reason (again, save discrimination and retaliation).

So, even if you work at the whim of your boss, you have some protection against improper employment decisions. At-will employees, for example, can be legally fired if their manager doesn't like their attitude. On the other hand, the same manager cannot fire an at-will employee for discriminating against their protected qualities.

According to California Labor Code 2922, every employee in California is considered "at-will" unless the parties involved agree otherwise or there is an applicable exception. It's worth mentioning that many contract employees are still considered "at-will" since their contracts state so (the employers make sure of it).

Yes, at-will employees are still protected from being fired on illegal grounds. Contact an Employment Lawyer in Los Angeles if you need assistance or more information on the subject. They can help you map out your present employment situation and find legal remedies to a probable California Employment Law for Wrongful Termination case.

Exceptions to the Rule of At-Will Employment

There are exceptions to the at-will employment provision known as "implied contracts." These agreements can be verbal, or the courts may examine both parties' activities to see if there was an understanding that the employee would not be fired without cause.

Consider the case below:

  • Various reasons for termination are listed in an employee handbook, such as poor job performance or misconduct. In addition, the company has a policy of retaining employees on board as long as their job performance is sufficient.

  • If an employee with good ratings and no reports of wrongdoing is fired to make way for the owner's nephew, the employee may be eligible to file a wrongful termination claim. This is because, based on the standards and current practices, the person would have reasonably anticipated keeping their job.

  • If a recently fired employee can demonstrate that they were employed under an express or implied contract, they may be able to claim wrongful termination on the implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing exemption. According to this guideline, an employer must:

    • When they terminate your employment agreement in contravention of their own personnel policies, they are acting in bad faith.

    • To prevent the worker from receiving a benefit to which they were otherwise entitled (such as a pension).

    • By obfuscating the reason for the termination

According to federal law, employers cannot dismiss employees in retaliation for reporting discrimination, harassment, or unsafe working conditions. On the other hand, retaliation claims might be difficult to prove because the worker carries the burden of proof in demonstrating the action was retaliatory.

los angeles wrongful termination attorneys

Furthermore, employees are often afraid of losing their jobs if they report harassment or unsafe working circumstances. As a result, just cause laws could help enforce anti-retaliation policies in the workplace.

Get a referral to one of our prescreened Los Angeles Employment Attorneys to assist you in better grasping the unique circumstances of your case.

At-will employees in California enjoy several important rights, including:

  • Fair accommodations should be made if the worker's capacity to work is compromised due to pregnancy or if the job provides an unwarranted risk to the worker or her unborn child (if the employer has more than five employees or workers).

  • If the company has at least 50 employees, guaranteed leave for particular scenarios, such as:

  • When an employee or worker is currently suffering from a severe illness (or health condition)

  • When an employee's loved one or family member (such as a spouse, child, or parent) is or has been diagnosed with a serious illness, the employee is responsible for their care.

  • The employee recently had or adopted a child.

Even at-will employees have to right to contact an Employment Attorney in Los Angeles to file claims. If you are confused or need some help regarding the viability of your grounds, consult with your lawyer so they can answer your questions.

Termination of Independent Contractors Without Cause

On the other hand, independent contractors in California are not entitled to any of the rights mentioned above. They are often barred from taking wrongful termination actions. On the other hand, the state has recently broadened the definition of employees to ensure that employers have the same rights and benefits as employees.

The employer must show the following to prove that an employee is an independent contractor:

  • It has no say in how a person carries out their responsibilities.

  • The employee is offering a service that the company does not typically supply.

  • The employee runs a different business, trade, or activity from the one run by the employer.

Is it possible for me to be fired for no apparent reason?

If there is no contract between the employer and the employee, the employer does not need "cause" to fire the employee, and the employee does not need "cause" to leave her job. If the relationship becomes unworkable, both parties have the option to end it at any time.

The parties can, however, execute a written contract guaranteeing the employee a specific length of employment. Employment contracts with specific restrictions are used to attract and retain highly competent individuals.

When the length of an employee's job term is defined, the "at-will" presumption dissolves. The employer must then have a compelling reason to fire the employee, such as if someone did something illegal on company property.

In most circumstances, the employment contract also requires the employer to provide 30 to 60 days' notice before terminating the employee. This gives the individual the opportunity to look for new work.

If your rights have been violated due to an illegal firing, contact a Los Angeles Employment A immediately now.

Is This a Case of Wrongful Termination, or Were You Just Fired Unfairly?

A legal right exists for an employer or supervisor to fire an at-will employee for any reason, even arbitrary or irrational reasons. In layman's terms, an employee can be fired for personal reasons or because they are being replaced by a new applicant who appears to be less competent. Naturally, the dismissal may seem unjust and unethical. It is doubtful, however, to be considered "illegal."

To be declared illegal, the termination must be motivated by an unlawful cause or a violation of public policy. An employer might fire a worker because she is Hispanic or disabled, for example. Firing someone because of their race, ethnicity, color, national origin, or handicap is considered an "unlawful policy."

Employees who file a complaint about the company's illegal actions or refuse to participate in the prohibited activity are also protected by the law.

It is illegal to terminate an employee in violation of public policy. Compensation, including back pay and punitive penalties, is due to the employee. That said, "unfair" termination is likely to be dismissed in court, and the employer may be able to collect its costs from the employee. It can be challenging to distinguish between "unlawful" and "unfair" terminations.

When your work ends due to resignation or termination, it's vital to understand your rights. First, consult a Los Angeles Employment Lawyer to determine if you have grounds to make a claim with the appropriate agencies.

California's Wrongful Termination Laws

If you've been laid off, fired, or dismissed from your work, the first thing you should think about is whether or not your dismissal was legal. Of course, an employer can fire an at-will employee at any moment if the reason is legal. However, there are a few important exceptions to at-will employment.

If you have a formal job contract with your California employer that specifies the terms of your employment and the duration of the contract, you are not considered an at-will employee. You might, for example, have a job contract that states that you will be employed for a certain amount of time. You may also have a letter of employment, an email, or another written document saying that you will be hired in the future. If you have such employment contracts or agreements in place, you may be able to enforce them in court.

An implicit contract, which effectively agrees with what your employer stated and did, is another exception to the at-will rule. However, this type of contract may be difficult to enforce because wrongful termination is difficult to show.

The courts in California consider a number of factors when determining whether an implied contract existed:

  • The length of your work experience

  • The frequency with which you are promoted at work

  • If you've gotten good feedback on your work

  • Your boss assuring you that you'll have a job for the rest of your life

  • Whether or not you were given notice of a layoff or dismissal by your employer

  • Whether or not you were promised a long-term or permanent job when you were hired

All of these elements contribute to the conclusion that the termination was illegitimate. Furthermore, contract claims might be qualified by demonstrating that a written or implicit contract has conditions regarding the amount of time you are authorized to work with an employer. This, of course, is contingent on your proof, present position, and the case prepared by your Los Angeles Employment Attorney.

When you say "unfair workplace practices," what exactly do you mean?

If your California employer failed to meet their obligations or acted in bad faith, you may have been fired illegally. Here are some cases of wrongful termination:

  • Employees are intentionally misled about their possibilities of advancement or wage raises.

  • An older employee is laid off in order to be replaced by a younger employee who would be paid less.

  • Employees are being transferred to less desirable locations and assignments in order to force them to resign without getting severance pay or other benefits to which they would otherwise be eligible.

  • Employees are being misled about a job's negative aspects in order to induce them to accept the position or assignment.

  • Taking disciplinary action against an employee to prevent them from receiving commissions or other benefits that are due to them.

If any of the above scenarios happened to you, you might have been in a hostile work environment. Contact a Los Angeles Employment Lawyer to help you build your employment claim.

best wrongful termination lawyers

Who's to Blame for Hostile Working Environments?

It is the responsibility of the employer to alleviate workplace tensions and guarantee that every employee arrives at work in a safe and pleasant environment. Employees in California are protected by state law against hostile workplace discrimination. The law also applies to persons who are not employees, including:

  • Interns

  • Volunteers

  • Applicants

  • Contractors

So, who is to blame when employees covered by California law are subjected to a hostile work environment? To begin with, businesses may be held liable for hostile work environments created by their own employees. If the bully was a manager, the management might be held entirely accountable for the hostile workplace.

If a non-supervisory employee creates a hostile work environment, employers may be held accountable. If the employee isn't the boss, the company is liable if they were aware of the situation (or should have been) and failed to take fast and reasonable corrective action."

Non-employees can also hold employers liable for hostile work environments. If the following circumstances are met, an employer will be held accountable for the activities of a non-employee:

  • The employer was aware or should have been aware that the employees' inaction put them in danger of being abused.

  • The employer failed to adopt timely and effective preventative or corrective steps.

  • It was entirely up to the employer to decide whether or not to take such action.

  • If a hostile work environment results from the conduct of a non-employee, an employee might have a hard time using their employer under this threshold.

  • Additionally, anyone who helped, promoted, or participated in bullying behavior might be held accountable to the employee for establishing a hostile work environment.

Your Los Angeles Employment Law Attorney may be able to assist you in gathering evidence to show that you were severely abused at work, prompting you to resign.

When Employers Disobey Regulations

It is illegal to fire or terminate a worker for disobeying the law. An employer in California, for example, cannot fire an employee for voting, serving on a jury, serving in the military, or making a workers' compensation claim for an on-the-job injury. In addition, employees cannot be dismissed for reporting illegal or wrongful actions at work to the authorities. This is known as whistleblowing. For example, you cannot be fired for informing the Occupational Safety and Health Administration about hazardous working circumstances (OSHA).

How To File A Wrongful Termination Claim In California

The specifics of your case can have an impact on how long it takes to submit and examine your claims. A California Employment Lawyer can assist you in sorting through all of the paperwork, investigations, discovery, and other legal processes that must be completed.

You will almost likely need to file a pre-trial investigation with the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing if your wrongful termination claim is based on discrimination, harassment, or retaliation (DFEH). Through this file, you can request that the DFEH do the following:

  • Examine your claim and come to a conclusion.

  • Send you a notice of your legal right to sue, allowing you to go to court with your case.

Related agencies may be able to help with some job issues. However, if DFEH declines to take your case, you may be granted permission to sue your attorney. As a result, you must first go to the agency even if you intend to sue them individually.

You can bring a complaint in the appropriate state court if you feel your wrongful termination was caused by a breach of contract or a violation of public policy.

Under California Rules of Civil Procedure, the employer and any other adverse party must be served with the complaint after it has been filed in the appropriate court:

  • The lawsuit will be filed in court, and the employer will be given the opportunity to respond.

  • Hearings will be arranged, and throughout the discovery process, you and your attorney will be able to request detailed documentation and admissions from the employer.

  • The employer will have the same opportunity.

  • If a settlement cannot be reached, the case may be brought to trial. Everything will be determined by the facts and circumstances. In some cases, a trial may be preferable to a settlement. However, there are always dangers associated with a trial because a jury can be unpredictable.

If you're still unsure, speak with the best Employment Attorney in Los Angeles about your options.

What Is The California Statute Of Limitations For Wrongful Termination Claims?

A wrongful termination complaint must be filed within two years in most situations. The statute of limitations for wrongful termination in California, however, varies based on the type of action filed:

  • You have one (1) year from the date of termination to submit a claim with the DFEH if you were unjustly terminated due to discrimination or harassment based on a protected class.

  • You have an additional ninety (90) days from the day the DFEH made a ruling to file a lawsuit in state court if the DFEH did not resolve the case or give you a right to sue notice.

  • You have two (2) years from the date of your wrongful termination to initiate a claim if you were terminated in violation of public policy while engaging in protected conduct (e.g., filing an employment claim with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, which is a protected act).

  • You have two years to file a claim if an oral or implicit contract is breached.

  • You have four years to file a claim if a written contract is broken.

If you do not file within the applicable statute of limitations, your labor law claim will be dismissed. However, if you have severe or extraordinary circumstances, you may be eligible for an exception. As a result, selecting an experienced Employment Lawyer in Los Angeles who can ensure that your documentation is filed on time is crucial.

Hire a Top Employment Lawyers in California for Wrongful Termination Cases is a California Bar Association Certified Lawyer Referral Service that refers you to a California Employment Attorney.

You may contact us through our 24/7 live chat (or complete our case details submission form) for a free initial consultation.

Related Articles:


Best Lawyers Near Los Angeles

California State Bar Certified Lawyer Referral And Information Service

Welcome to, a Lawyer Referral and Information Service certified and approved by the California State Bar.

"Our commitment is to provide you with unbiased and impartial lawyer referrals."


Unlike other services, we maintain complete independence from the lawyers receiving these referrals, ensuring transparency and fairness.

While we specialize in California employment law and personal injury claims, we offer our referral services for various other legal areas.


At, we aim to ensure you are connected with best California attorney near you who can provide comprehensive and exceptional representation for your specific legal needs.


We understand that every legal situation is unique and are dedicated to finding the best match for you.


With our extensive network of attorneys, we strive to deliver outstanding legal support and guidance tailored to your individual requirements.

At, we hold California attorneys to the highest standards of professional conduct.


Your satisfaction and confidence in the legal representation you receive are paramount to us.


Rest assured that when you engage in our services, you can expect nothing less than exceptional legal support and guidance.

Why Lawyer Referrals Matter


The California State Bar investigates on average 16,000 complaints of professional misconduct by attorneys annually.

We conduct due diligence by researching and recommending the best local attorney for your case. 


Our team of experts verifies that attorneys are in good standing and have the required experience in the type of law related to your legal issue. 

Learn more about attorney discipline here.


Our History 


Since 2005, we have been dedicated to helping individuals find reliable legal representation in California.


We understand the challenges people face when trying to locate reputable lawyers, especially when inundated with self-promoting advertisements and biased marketing from law firms.


At our service, we strive to cut through the noise and provide a trustworthy and unbiased platform for connecting individuals with reputable California lawyers.


Our clients receive quality legal representation without the frustration and uncertainty often associated with legal advertising.

How the LRS Works 

Anyone seeking competent and honest legal representation in California, can request a FREE lawyer referral. 

Once you submit your case details online, our legal 24-hour legal department will review your claim and reply via email. Most cases are reviewed and answered within 15 minutes. 


A free 30 minute consultation with the attorney will be offered to each referred client. 

A representative will follow up a few days later via email with the client after receiving a referral for quality management purposes, or to obtain the status of the case. 

About lawyers from our network

California lawyers in our network are insured, in good standing with the California State Bar, and have substantial experience in their practice area.


Attorneys are available in most areas of law throughout Southern California. Every lawyer in or network has been vetted for:

  • Credentials

  • Education

  • Communication skills

  • Performance

  • Client reviews

  • Fair legal fees

  • Continuing education

  • Professional affiliations

Additionally, we conduct criminal  background checks and attorneys are always monitored by our service.  

How to find the best lawyer for your legal case: 

1. The fastest way to have your legal issue reviewed by one of our attorneys is to send your details online.


Your information will go directly to our 24 hour legal department bypassing our call center. You will get a reply via email within 15 minutes. 

2. You may also inquire about your legal issue via email. We respond to email inquiries within 24 hours M-F. 

3. By calling our lawyer referral hotline 661-310-7999. However, our agents are not attorneys and cannot provide legal advice. Due to high call volumes, it's highly recommended that you use option # 1 above. 


Simple Retro Handyman Service Badge Logo-2.png
bottom of page