Losing a job can feel like the rug has been pulled out from under you. It’s a major life shakeup under any circumstances. But it becomes exponentially more devastating if you lose that livelihood for an unlawful reason – if you were wrongfully terminated.
With an experienced California wrongful termination lawyer guiding you, California employees have the power to fight back against unlawful firings.
If you or a loved one have been let go under false pretenses, contact us today for a consultation.
Were You Wrongfully Terminated in California?
Wrongful termination means getting fired for an unlawful reason or in violation of public policy protections.
Some examples that may qualify as wrongful termination are getting dismissed on the basis of your sex, gender, race, disability, or religion; speaking up about illegal activities and then getting fired in retaliation; filing a workers’ compensation claim only to find yourself suddenly let go.
If any of those scenarios sound familiar, you may have the legal right to seek redress. Read on to find out more about wrongful termination claims in California and what you can potentially do if you believe you were unjustly terminated.
Could You Have a Wrongful Termination Claim in California? Common Examples
California operates on an at-will employment basis. Essentially, at-will employment gives bosses leeway to dismiss workers whenever they want, for any reason (or no reason at all).
However, an at-will employment relationship does not mean all actions by the employer are permissible. There are situations where a termination is unlawful:
- Protected classes – Federal and California laws protect employees from termination based on race, gender, age, disability, medical conditions, sexual orientation, veteran status, and other protected characteristics. Firing someone for those reasons is illegal – even in an at-will state.
- Public policy violations – Employers can’t retaliate against workers who take actions that public policy supports, like reporting unlawful activities or refusing to violate the law themselves. If you get fired under these circumstances, it likely constitutes wrongful termination.
- Breach of contract – Verbal or written guarantees of job security may form binding employment contracts that override at-will arrangements. Employee handbooks can also create implied contracts restricting termination.
Consulting with a knowledgeable employment attorney is the best way to determine if your specific firing qualifies as unlawful. But even at-will employees have legal recourse in many cases.
What Should I Do After a Potentially Wrongful Termination?
If you believe you’ve been wrongfully terminated from a job in California, several steps can help protect your rights. Timelines matter—after termination, promptly contact California’s Civil Rights Department (CRD) to file a complaint within three years. The CRD will investigate unlawful discrimination, retaliation, and harassment claims under state law.
Additionally, you typically have 180 days from termination to file a charge with the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) regarding discrimination complaints under federal law. Consult an attorney for specific deadlines for lawsuits.
Collecting evidence is critical, so keep detailed records. Write down any incidents of discrimination, harassment, or retaliation in a journal with dates, times, and witness names. Save pertinent emails, texts, performance reviews, etc.
These cases are complex, so retain a knowledgeable employment lawyer to analyze your situation and advise if you have valid legal claims under state or federal law. They can also guide you through the complaint filing process.
Filing an Employment Discrimination Claim in California
- File a complaint with CRD to begin the administrative process. You can submit an intake form online, by mail, or by phone.
- CRD will contact you within 60 days for an intake interview to evaluate your claim. If valid, you’ll receive a complaint form to detail the alleged unlawful events.
- CRD issues the complaint to your employer, who has 30 days to respond.
- CRD requires both parties to attempt mediation first to resolve the issue. If unresolved, a CRD investigation proceeds.
- CRD investigates using evidence from both sides. If they find merit, CRD may file suit on your behalf. If there is a finding of insufficient evidence, the CRD will issue a Right-to-Sue notice.
- You have one year from the Right-to-Sue notice date to file a lawsuit in civil court. Obtain legal counsel for assistance.
The litigation process involves discovery and depositions and can either end in settlement pre-trial or proceed to trial.
What Remedies Are Available in Wrongful Termination Lawsuits?
Successful wrongful termination claims can lead to a variety of legal remedies under California law. In most cases, a wrongful termination lawsuit seeks damages to compensate for your loss.
Possible remedies include:
- Lost wages, both back pay and future earnings
- Value of lost employment benefits
- Emotional distress damages
- Punitive damages
- Attorney’s fees
The exact value depends on your specific situation. But, illegally terminated employees can recover substantial compensation through successful claims. In some circumstances, in addition to compensation, you may be able to get your old job back.
The value of your particular case depends on things like salary, tenure, misconduct severity, and more. An experienced lawyer can calculate your potential recovery amount. But the bottom line is – wrongfully terminated employees have options to recoup career stability and income.
How Can a California Wrongful Termination Lawyer Help?
Partnering with a knowledgeable employment lawyer is the smartest step when building a wrongful termination case. Legal professionals can provide critical assistance:
- Thoroughly investigate your situation to build the strongest case
- Pinpointing which legal claims to pursue based on your circumstances
- Attempting settlement via demand letters and negotiations
- Taking the fight to court by filing a lawsuit if needed
- Leveraging litigation experience and employment law expertise to maximize your outcome
By retaining competent counsel, wrongfully terminated employees gain an empowered ally with the tools and tenacity to pursue justice. Don’t tackle it alone – legal support can make all the difference.
Why TONG LAW is the Right Choice for Your Case
At TONG LAW, our employment lawyers have years of experience fighting for employees in wrongful termination and other employment law disputes. Our proven track record stems from over a decade of experience in exclusively fighting on behalf of employees..
We have obtained favorable verdicts and settlements for wronged clients by leveraging compassionate yet aggressive advocacy, extensive investigation capabilities, and tenacious, strategic negotiation and litigation skills. We provide consultations and transparent counsel to wrongfully terminated employees.
Losing a job is hard enough without having it happen unjustly. If you lost your livelihood for unlawful reasons, contact TONG LAW to stand up for your rights. Our determination and experience in employment law can help you move forward in seeking justice. Partner with us and take the first step.
Schedule a Consultation with Our California Wrongful Termination Lawyers
If you were fired for potentially illegal reasons, TONG LAW can help you understand your rights and options. Contact us for a case review. Our experienced attorneys are committed to fighting for employees facing injustice at work. Partner with us and take the first step toward seeking justice.