Updated: 6 hours ago
A guide for California employees who have been wrongfully terminated in 2022
Employees who are wrongfully terminated in violation of an employment agreement due to any type of discrimination or for exercising their employee rights may be able to file a lawsuit under California Employment Law for wrongful termination.
In California, most employees work at will, which suggests they could be fired at any time and for any reason. However, California has created a variety of illegal reasons for employment termination, which are off-limits for employers.
If you've got a contract that promises you continued employment for a particular length of your time that limits your employer's ability to terminate your employment (for example, just for "good cause" or other specific reasons), your employer must honor the employment contract. If for some reason, your employer still fires you in violation of the terms of the contract, you'll have a strong claim against your employer for wrongful termination.
An employment agreement could be established by a written or oral agreement. An employment agreement can also be implied by certain actions or statements by your employer -- for instance, a statement in an employee handbook that says employees are going to be fired just for the cause. If your employer violated the terms of the contract in any way, you'd sue for wages, benefits, and anything you ought to have received. You'll also be able to use the contract as leverage to barter a severance package together with your employer.
Employers cannot fire an employee from a protected group. In California, these groups include race, color, national origin, religion, sex, maternity, age, disability, genetic information, sexual orientation, identity, citizenship status, legal status, AIDS/HIV status, medical condition, political affiliation, or any other activities such as military or veteran status, or status as a victim of violence, stalking, or assault.
If you're able to produce substantial and documented proof that you were fired from your job because you are identified as being part of one of these protected groups, you'll have a very strong wrongful termination claim against your employer. Your employer will be forced to compensate you for your lost wages, benefits, and also be forced to pay your attorneys' fees, court costs, and damages for your emotional distress.
That said, it's important that you find a prescreened Wrongful Termination Lawyer in California. They know their way around the law and can help you build a solid case, find evidence, and represent you in court and negotiations.
An employer might not fire an employee for exercising, or trying to enforce, their employment rights. For instance, you cannot be terminated for filing a claim of discrimination or harassment in the workplace, for requesting or taking family and medical leave, being pregnant, taking time off from work to serve as a jury, for filing a workers' compensation injury claim, or simply for addressing illegal wage and hour practices.
California is probably the state that gives the most protections for workers, which implies there are many potential bases for retaliation claims. For example, if you were wrongfully terminated right after filing a complaint or exercising a right granted by law, you'll have a claim against your employer.
The damages available for retaliation claims depend upon which law you were exercising and the specifics around your termination. As stated above, you'll be able to collect all your lost wages, and benefits, and have your employer pay for your legal fees and costs.
Violation of Public Policy
Employees might not be fired for exercising a right, refusing to commit an illegal act, or complaining about workplace safety of illegal activities. Public policy claims are almost like, but slightly different from retaliation claims. A retaliation claim is based on a selected legal provision in California labor law that prohibits companies from firing employees for exercising that right or filing a complaint about being denied that right.
A public policy claim, on the opposite hand, doesn't need to be supported a specific labor law or maybe a selected statute. For example, an employee at a corporation that manufactures machine parts is fired for filing a complaint with the federal or local government, alleging that the company is illegally using after-market parts in its opera