Examples of Wrongful Termination in California
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Examples of Wrongful Termination in California

Examples of Wrongful Termination in California

When someone claims that they have been wrongfully terminated from their employment, they often mean that their firing violated state or federal laws. Employers in California have a number of rules to follow when it comes to terminating an employee and if they violate them, it can lead to a wrongful termination lawsuit on the behalf of the employee.

Most Common Wrongful Termination Examples in California

  • The employee was fired for being a whistleblower
  • The employee was fired in violation of a contract
  • The firing violated public policy
  • An employee was terminated for using time off under the California employee
    leave laws
  • The employer fired an employee who used the rights given to them by the Fair
    Employment and Housing Act
  • Fired for their political activities
  • Fired for filing a workers’ compensation claim due to an injury or illness suffered
    on the job
  • Violations of the Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act (WARN)
    when mass layoffs occur

Depending on the circumstances of the employee’s termination, the employee could be eligible for compensation from their employer for wrongful termination damages. The compensation will also depend on the type of lawsuit that can be filed. For the most part, wrongfully terminated employees can seek compensation for the following:

  • Back pay for missed wages
  • Lost benefits
  • Fees for your wrongful termination lawyer
  • Emotional distress (the pain and suffering caused by the unexpected loss of your employment)
  • Punitive damages, which are meant to punish the employer for purposefully firing employees without cause

In today’s blog, our Los Angeles wrongful termination lawyer answers the most commonly asked questions related to wrongful termination cases in California.

What Constitutes as Wrongful Termination in California?

In order for wrongful termination cases to proceed in California, one or more of the following items must be present:

  • The employee had whistleblower protection
  • There were exceptions to at-will employment
  • Political activities of the employee
  • Wrongful discharge based on the Fair Employment and Housing Act
  • Wrongful termination based on the WARN Act
  • Wrongful constructive termination

What is a Whistleblower?

A whistleblower is someone who is fired by their employer in retaliation for that employee reporting possible illegal or unethical practices or activities to law enforcement or government agencies. Whistleblowers are protected by public policy. In California, employees have protection under Labor Code 1102.5 LC, which prohibits firing an employee who reports a violation to law enforcement, government agencies, or someone in the company who has the authority to investigate the claim.

At-Will Employment in California

Our attorneys are often asked the following question: Can you be fired for no reason in California?

What most people don’t know is that employees can be fired for no reason in California. Almost all employment relationships in the state are considered at-will employment, which means that an employee can be fired by an employer whenever the employer deems necessary and for no reason.

There are, however, exceptions that help to protect at-will employees under California law.

These exceptions include the following:

  • Fraud or misrepresentation
  • An employer breach of an implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing
  • An implied contract that ensures employers do not fire an employee without cause
  • Wrongfully terminating an employee that violates public policy

Personal Political Activities of the Employee

Employees in California might be able to file a lawsuit for unlawful termination if they were fired for exercising their right to free speech and to take part in political activities. Labor law in California prohibits employers from controlling or directing the speech or political activities of their employees. Labor law in the state also permits lawsuits by employees who are fired for joining a labor union or taking part in activities led by a union.

Being Fired Under the Fair Employment and Housing Act

The Fair Employment and Housing Act protects employees in California from being fired from their jobs because they did any of the following:

  • Filed a complaint alleging sexual harassment or any other form of harassment
  • Oppose harassment of others or themselves in the workplace
  • Filed a complaint alleging discrimination
  • Testified or assisted in a lawsuit or an investigation of discrimination or
    harassment

The WARN Act

Employers are required to comply with the California WARN Act. This law requires employers to notify their employees of layoffs of 50 or more people 60 days prior to the termination date. It also requires employers to provide notification of the closure or relocation of any facilities. The law must be followed by employers who have 75 or more employees. Should the employer fail to provide the proper notice, employees can file a wrongful termination lawsuit for back wages and lost benefits for the number of days that fell short of the required 60-day notice.

What is Wrongful Constructive Termination?

Wrongful constructive termination occurs when an employee is forced to resign from their position because their employer has made working there intolerable. The conditions that must be met in order to file a wrongful constructive termination claim include the following:

  • An employer intentionally created an intolerable situation or allowed working
    conditions that a reasonable employer would expect a reasonable employee to
    resign because of them
  • The employer would not have been within reason to terminate the employee in
    question because of public policy or because of an implied contract

Can I be Fired for Taking Workers’ Compensation Benefits?

Some employers fire employees who file for or receive workers’ compensation benefits because they suffered an illness or an injury on the job. This is illegal in California. It is also illegal for employers to fire any employee who testifies on behalf of another employee who is seeking workers’ compensation benefits. California employers cannot retaliate against employees who miss time at work because they have suffered an illness or injury on the job.

Wrongful Termination Stemming from FMLA

The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) protects employees who need to take time away from their jobs in order to care for a loved one, care for themselves, or care for a new baby. Employers cannot fire or retaliate against an employee who utilizes leave set forth by FMLA. Private employers who have 50 or more employees for at least 20 weeks out of the year must follow this law.

An employee becomes eligible for FMLA when they have been at their current job for at least one year and no less than 1,250 hours. An eligible employee is permitted to take up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave without running the risk of losing their job and be free from retaliation. FMLA covers the following:

  • Providing care for a foster or adopted child
  • Providing care for a newborn
  • Providing care for a family member who has a serious illness
  • Providing care for someone in the armed forces who has a serious injury or illness
  • Having an injury or illness yourself that prevents you from doing your job

How do I File a Wrongful Termination Claim in California?

Our wrongful termination lawyer recommends that you seek legal counsel immediately if you believe you were wrongfully terminated from your job. Once you speak with an experienced attorney, it is imperative that you preserve any and all evidence related to your termination. Evidence that can assist in proving your case includes the following:

  • Email communications
  • Company policies
  • Pictures
  • Copies of performance reviews
  • The termination letter
  • Any correspondence between you and your supervisor

If you need copies of these documents, you can request them from the employer. If the request is denied, the attorney can ensure that you receive the documents. An attorney will be able to conduct a thorough investigation into the claim and help build a case against your employer.

How Do You Prove Wrongful Termination in California?

You will need physical evidence in order to prove wrongful termination in California and not just hearsay. Aside from documentation of your firing and communications with your supervisor, you can also help prove wrongful termination with eyewitness statements. For example, if your co-workers saw how you were treated by your employer, you should request that they testify on your behalf.

An attorney might also request data from the company that could show a history of prejudice. For example, a lack of people of color in management positions or that minorities are fired more often than any other group of people.

California law also permits oral conversations when proving wrongful termination. For example, you might be able to relay conversations to your attorney about the following:

  • About the termination of your employment
  • About your performance in your position
  • Conversations about your job that led you to believe you were being terminated

This is why it is vital you write down all conversations right after they occur. They will be fresh in your mind and you might be able to use them when testifying against your employer should you file a California wrongful termination lawsuit for wrongful termination settlements.

How are Damages for Lost Benefits and Lost Wages Calculated?

In a wrongful termination case, the damages for lost benefits and lost wages are calculated as follows:

  • The value of the employee’s salary and benefits that the plaintiff would have
    received if he or she had not been terminated from the date of termination to the date a verdict is issued by the court and adjusted to take inflation into account
  • Calculating the value of the salary and benefits that the employee would have
    received for as long as their employment would have lasted if they hadn’t been wrongfully terminated
  • Taking the above values and adding them to any other damages related to the
    contract caused by the behavior of the employer

In the simplest of terms, the compensation for a wrongful termination case often includes past lost wages and benefits, future lost wages and benefits, as well as other damages caused by the violation of the contract.

What is the Statute of Limitation for Wrongful Termination in California?

If you believe you were wrongfully terminated, you have a set amount of time as outlined by the law in California and the type of termination claim. Below, you will find the types of unlawful termination claims and their respective wrongful termination statute of limitations in California:

  • Public policy – 2 years
  • Breach of contract (implied oral contract) – 2 years
  • Whistleblower under Labor Code 1102.5 – 3 years
  • Whistleblower under Sarbanes-Oxley Act – 180 days and the complaint has to be filed with the United States Department of Labor
  • WARN Act – 3 years
  • Fair Employment and Housing Act – 3 years

The statute of limitations begins the day you were terminated from your job or when the discrimination or harassment began. Once you file a claim it can take anywhere from several months to several years to resolve.

How to Determine if You Were Wrongfully Terminated

Determining whether or not you were wrongfully terminated doesn’t have to be difficult. Take a look at the following checklist. If you can answer yes to just one of these questions, you likely have a case for wrongful termination.

  • Was I fired because of my race, religion, political views, or ethnicity?
  • Was I forced to resign because I was sexually harassed or the workplace became
    intolerable?
  • Did I lose my job because I needed to take family leave?
  • Did I lose my job because I suffered an illness or injury that required me to file
    for workers’ compensation benefits?
  • Was I fired because I demanded to be paid wages or benefits that were owed to
    me?
  • Was I fired because I reported my employer for unethical or illegal practices or
    actions?

Seek Assistance from an Experienced Wrongful Termination Attorney Today

Employers in California are required to follow state and federal labor laws. Violations of these laws, specifically ones designed to protect employees, can lead to wrongful termination cases. If you believe that you were wrongfully terminated from your job, it is in your best interest to seek legal counsel from an experienced California wrongful termination attorney as soon as possible.

Manukyan Law Firm can investigate your claim, collect evidence, review your employer’s hiring and firing practices, and fight for your right to maximum financial compensation. Call our firm today at 818-559-4444 or complete a contact form to schedule a free consultation. You can read reviews from our clients to learn why we are the trusted wrongful termination firm providing proven results to workers in California.

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