California Wrongful Termination Claim Guidelines
If you’re an employee in California who’s been fired in violation of an employment contract, for discriminatory reasons, or for exercising certain legal rights, you may have a valid wrongful termination claim.
In California, most employees work at will, meaning they can be fired at any time, with or without notice. With that said, California has created a set of rules that make terminating employees under particular circumstances illegal.
Breach Of Contract
If you have a contract with your employer that specifies parameters like the length of time, hourly rate, firing only for “good cause”, etc. — and your employer does not honor that contract, then you have a valid wrongful termination claim against them.
An employer that breaches their contract can be sued by the employee for lost wages, benefits, and anything else outlined in the contract that you as an employee should have received if the contract had been honored.
It is illegal for employers to making hiring or on-the-job decisions (including whether to fire an employee), based on certain protected characteristics. In California, this includes:
- National origin
- Sexual orientation
- Gender identity
- Citizenship statues
- Marital status
- Medical condition
- Political beliefs or affiliation
- Military status
If you were fired because of your membership in one or more the above protected classes, you may have a strong case for a wrongful termination claim.
If you win a discrimination lawsuit, your employer can be forced to pay not only your lost wages and benefits, but also your attorneys’ fees and court costs, damages for your emotional distress, and possibly punitive damages.
California employers cannot fire any employee for exercising, or trying to enforce, their employment rights. For example, an employee cannot be fired for filing a sexual harassment claim against his or her boss.
Other common employment rights include taking family or medical leave, jury duty, filing complaints about wage and hour practices, etc. Any employee who is fired directly as a result of exercising any of those types of employment rights can file a wrongful termination claim against their employer.
It’s worth noting that California more employee protections than almost any other state in the US, which means there are many potential avenues for retaliation claims. Typically, a successful wrongful termination claim due to employer retaliation can recover not only lost wages and benefits, but also attorneys’ fees, damages for emotional distress, and sometimes punitive damages.
Wrongful Termination Claim Next Steps
If you believe you were wrongfully terminated, you should talk to an experienced employment lawyer right away. There are many potential legal boundaries from which you might have a lawsuit.
An attorney will help you sift through the facts, determine your strongest claims, and take steps to assert your rights. In some cases, you might need to take action relatively quickly to protect your right to sue. A attorney will file your lawsuit, help you negotiate a generous severance package, or advise you on other ways to resolve your claim.
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