Wrongful Termination Lawyers Serving California
As lawyers experienced in employment law, Lawyers for Justice, PC, has worked with many employees who have lost their jobs for unfair reasons. California is an “at-will” employment state, which means employers can fire workers for any reason, at any time, but that doesn’t mean every termination is legal. The law is rather complex. With legal representation, a skilled attorney will help determine if your termination is an exception to the “at-will” employment rule.
Examples of wrongful termination include firing an employee for refusing to break a law, taking medical leave, or taking time off for military service. Termination can also be illegal if it violates an employment contract, public policy, or state/federal laws. At Lawyers for Justice, PC, we factor in all aspects of your claim and applicable laws and statutes when investigating your case. Our goal is to build the strongest case possible based on which laws were broken in order to maximize the damages you can recover.
Types of Wrongful Termination
- Termination for Discriminatory Reasons: Termination due to your age, gender, race, national origin, religion, sexual orientation, disability, or medical condition. If fired after you heard discriminatory comments by a manager or supervisor, reported an injury or pregnancy, you may have been terminated for a discriminatory reason. Evidence of discrimination also includes when employees over the age of 40 are laid off in favor of younger employees in disproportionate numbers.
- Termination for Retaliatory Reasons: Employees are protected and encouraged by state and federal laws to report wrongdoing. Therefore, firing someone for reporting discrimination, sexual harassment, unsafe working conditions, or labor code violations is considered retaliation. If you’re fired for requesting benefits you’re entitled to such as medical leave or overtime pay, this is also retaliatory. So is termination for reporting employer violations to outside agencies or refusing to engage in illegal activity.
- Termination in Breach of Contract: Employment contracts are typically formal documents, but information in emails and other communications can also imply the terms of a contract. A breach of contract may occur when the company agrees to hire an employee for a certain number of years, but terminates them before that term has expired. Even if an employer argues the termination was due to subpar performance, an employee can counter by saying they performed their duties as laid out in the contract. An employer’s justification can therefore be considered an excuse, and a violation of an existing employment contract indeed took place.
- Constructive Termination: An employee who resigns rather than gets fired can claim constructive termination in some circumstances. California law recognizes situations in which working conditions are made so intolerable an employee has no other choice but to leave the company. Examples include demoting an employee, cutting back their hours or rate of pay, or failing to prevent harassment, which would leave the worker with little choice but to leave their job.
When Employers Violate Public Policy
Employers in California are forbidden from firing an employee who requires time off for jury duty, to vote, or serve in the armed forces. It is also illegal to fire someone because they were injured on the job and filed a workers’ compensation claim. Employees can also exercise their write to report illegal activity or unsafe conditions to, for example, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), as whistleblowing is a protected activity. If specified workplace safety regulations are violated, workers are free to report them while employers can face stiff penalties for retaliation.
What Steps Should I Take?
If you believe your employer engaged in discrimination, retaliation, or defamation that led to your dismissal, contact our wrongful termination lawyer right away. Quickly taking the right steps will protect your rights.
Make sure you have all relevant documents, such as your own account of incidents or events, termination notice, personnel file, performance reviews, pay stubs, employee policies and, if applicable, employment contracts, union contracts, emails, or internal memos. Your next step should be to contact a wrongful termination lawyer. A wrongful termination case can be complex and challenging, but an attorney can analyze your claim to build a strong case. They can even help file your complaint with the EEOC.
Damages for Wrongful Termination
A wrongful termination case is a civil lawsuit in which an employer is required to pay a plaintiff monetary damages. These damages can include:
- Lost Wages: Wages you would have earned had your employer not fired you, including overtime and other compensation. Compensation can be reduced by wages you earn after termination, but if you get hired at a lower pay, damages will equal the difference between what you earned before and your current salary.
- Lost Benefits: Compensation for the value of medical/dental insurance, a pension plan, stock options, retirement benefits, and other employment benefits you received while working for the company.
- Pain and Suffering: If you suffered emotional distress (such as depression or anxiety) due to your employer’s actions, as verified by a mental health professional, you may be eligible for monetary damages.
- Punitive Damages: Awarded when a defendant’s behavior is especially severe, punitive damages are intended to punish employers for their actions and deter others from behaving in a similar manner.
- Attorney’s Fees: Depending on your case, you might recover attorney’s fees and other costs associated with the legal process, including court expenses.
Contact Lawyers for Justice, PC Today for a Free Consultation
If you feel you’ve been wrongfully terminated, contact Lawyers for Justice, PC, and we’ll determine if your employer violated any federal or state laws. To get started, call (818) 647-9323 and receive a free consultation, today!