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Things To Do After Being Wrongfully Terminated in California

Updated: Jun 2

Learn the things on what to do when you are subjected to a Wrongful Termination in California

The state of California has a sizable working population. Many of these employees are covered by state and federal labor legislation, which can prohibit them from being fired or compelled to resign in some circumstances. Each pre-screened and top Employment Lawyers in California at is committed to assisting individuals and businesses in achieving positive outcomes in employment law cases, including wrongful termination cases.

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The Basics of Wrongful Termination in California

While California does not have specific wrongful termination laws, there are a number of state and federal laws that provide workers with wrongful termination protection. There are times that a worker may file a valid claim against an employer for a forced employment termination under these unfair termination laws.

Retaliation, discrimination, breach of contract, character assassination, breach of good faith, and constructive discharge are all examples of wrongful termination. Our Employment Attorneys in Los Angeles have the following brief examples of these California wrongful termination causes:

1. Retaliation: occurs when an employee is fired as a result of the employee disclosing the employer's unlawful act to the relevant authorities.

2. Discrimination: Termination based on discrimination in the workplace happens when someone is fired because of their caste, creed, sex, color, race, faith, or some other discriminatory purpose.

3. Breach of express or implied contract: A breach of express contract occurs when an employee's job is dependent on a contract for a fixed period of time, and the employer terminates the employee without justification before the period ends. Jobs may or may not be dependent on a contract. In these cases, employers' policy guides, employee handbooks, employee agreements, and other similar documents may be interpreted as binding, implicit contracts of continued employment.

Foley vs. Interactive Data Corp., a landmark California case, established certain conditions to be eligible for implied contracts, including an employee's chain of promotions, raises, excellent merit ratings, and verbal promises of job security.

4. Character assassination: An unfair firing in breach of public policy occurs when an employer makes a false statement about an employee in order to fire the employee.

5. Breach of Good Faith Covenant: The employer has made an implicit commitment to handle the workers equally. When an employee is fired for false reasons provided by the employer, it is deemed a breach of good faith and a fair deal.

Your employer is in breach of contract if they terminate you before the end of your contract or if they fail to deliver on any commitments given or implied by the contract.

If your employer is able to discuss a beneficial severance package for you, you don't have to sue them. (We will even assist you in reaching a settlement agreement.) If you can't come to an agreement, it's time to go to court.

Written contract breaches are uncommon since they are simple to prove and execute. If such breaches happen, they usually happen at a high level and may be worth millions of dollars. Oral and implied contract breaches are much more common.

In California, what constitutes a contract breach?

The majority of contracts contain clauses that cover:

  • Pay (Wages, salaries, commissions)

  • Work Hours

  • Employer and employee responsibilities

  • Benefits

  • Workforce reduction contingencies, including severance compensation

Any failure to satisfy these requirements is considered a violation under California law, and each of the above provisos has a remedy.

3. Constructive discharge/dismissal. This happens when an employee is forced to leave due to the employer's changes in the workplace.

Which Laws Protect Employees?

Wrongful termination is both unfair and unlawful. However, many employers engage in other unethical activities on a regular basis, such as unfair wages based on gender, race, and age, as well as inadequate working conditions and a lack of overtime pay.

However, there are regulations in place to protect employees from unethical and unfair employment practices. They are as follows:

  • Equal Pay Act of 1963

  • Act on Social Security

  • 1964 Civil Rights Act

  • Occupational Safety and Health Act

  • Affordable Care Act

  • Family and Medical Leave Act

  • Fair Labor Standards Act

  • Protected Characteristics and Protected Activities

california wrongful termination

Wrongful termination is one way an employer can participate in illegal discrimination or harassment against an employee, as well as break employment laws and breach employee rights. When your employer fires you for some illegal cause, this is known as wrongful termination. Job discrimination, employer abuse, retribution, your membership in a protected class of workers, or your participation in a protected activity may all be unlawful motives.

A protected class is a category of citizens who are afforded special legal rights. Among the groups that are covered are:

A protected activity is an action that an employee may engage in without fear of being fired legally. Among the activities that are covered are:

Complaining about the employer's unpaid overtime, unpaid salaries, unhealthy working conditions, or illegal behavior such as:

  • Reporting illegal activity

  • Notifying the authorities of a civil infraction

  • Taking advantage of a civil or constitutional right

There are occasions, though, where an employee believes they were wrongfully dismissed, but the employer has not broken any employment laws.

It will help you to seek the opinion of prescreened California wrongful termination attorneys to get your case reviewed in order to understand the difference in your specific circumstance.

What is the Importance of Wrongful Termination Cases for At-Will Employees?

Jobs who seek advice and legal aid from a wrongful termination lawyer in California will quickly realize, if they haven't already, that California is an "at-will" job state. This simply means that employees can leave their employment whenever they want without fear of retribution from their employers. Employers may also break ties with their employees without warning or excuse, even though they are doing well and have no other grievances with their employees.

At-will jobs give employers equal rights when it comes to hiring and firing workers, just as customers have the freedom to choose and refund purchases.

There are several exceptions to the at-will jobs rule, such as when you:

  • Have a membership in a labor union

  • You are a government employee

  • Have a written contract that specifies the length of your job (as with many professional athletes, for example)

Naturally, the at-will clause prohibits employers from firing workers for illegal reasons.

Public Policy Exemption

These at-will work regulations have a range of exceptions. The first is the public policy exemption, which kicks in if an employee refuses to break a statute or rule, commits perjury, or conspire with the employer to discriminate against a prospective employee based on their nationality, color, religion, age, sexual orientation, or gender. If any of these conditions are violated, a wrongful termination case may be filed under the public policy exception to at-will jobs.

This public policy exemption also applies if the harmed employee has filed a workers' compensation lawsuit. Section 132(a) of the California Labor Code expressly forbids an employer from firing or discriminating against an employee who files a worker's compensation claim. If the court determines that the breach occurred, the person in question could be entitled to monetary compensation for back pay, as well as damages for emotional distress and work reinstatement.

This exception for public policy also applies to corporate whistleblowers. This extension, however, only extends where the employee has legitimate concerns about health and safety, state or federal law violations, some kind of criminal behavior, and/or unethical business practices. Antitrust breaches, price gouging, and other unethical behavior on the part of the employer are examples.

Implied Contract Exemptions

Defining the precise terms of the employment contract is one of the most difficult aspects of constructing a wrongful termination case. To put it another way, in order for wrongful termination to be legal, the contract must have been violated. The fact that the state of California accepts both formal and implied employment agreements (written contracts) adds to the ambiguity (verbal agreements).

An "implied employment contract" is a non-written arrangement between an employee and their employer, according to California labor law. Instead, the contract is established by both parties' actions. This is still legally binding.

This implied contract, in the sense of California labor laws, effectively implies that the employer cannot fire the employee unless there is a compelling or justifiable reason.