If your employer unfairly fired you in the state of California, you may have a wrongful termination claim.
But what does that mean, and what would be the benefit of you for filing a lawsuit? This guide explains:
- What it means if you’re unfairly fired from your job
- What the law considers wrongful termination
- What happens when discrimination is involved in a wrongful termination case
- How your employment contract may protect you from being unfairly fired
- How you can fight back if you were unfairly fired from your job
What Does “Unfairly Fired” Mean?
California is an at-will state, which means employers can fire employees at-will (and likewise, employees can quit at-will). However, there are some cases in which it’s illegal for employers to fire employees—and in those cases, the employers are guilty of wrongful termination.
Wrongful termination occurs when an employer fires an employee for an illegal reason. Generally, employers cannot fire employees for discriminatory reasons or for taking lawful action against a company (such as whistleblowing or refusing to commit an unlawful act).
What is Wrongful Termination?
Wrongful termination occurs when an employer lays off or fires an employee for reasons that violate that employee’s legal rights. Those legal rights can involve discrimination, the right to expect the employer to hold up its end of the employment contract, or the violation of public policy.
Employers have to follow the law – even if it’s inconvenient – and when they don’t, employees have legal recourse. And while some people are able to solve problems by visiting the company’s Human Resources department or discussing the situation with a supervisor, it’s sometimes necessary to get in touch with an attorney who can provide case-specific legal guidance.
Discrimination and Wrongful Termination
Your employer can’t discriminate against you because of your:
- Genetic information
- National origin
- Race or color
- Gender or sexual orientation
If you’ve been unfairly fired for a discriminatory reason, you may have a wrongful termination case.
What Happens if You Win a Discrimination/Wrongful Termination Case?
While every case is different, and there’s no way to predict how a judge will rule, the courts have awarded lost wages and benefits, attorneys’ fees and court costs, and damages for emotional distress in these types of cases in the past. In some cases, judges also order punitive damages (money a company has to pay as “punishment,” which also serves as a deterrent for that company and other companies that might do the same thing to someone else in the future).
Employment Contracts and Wrongful Termination
If you signed an employment contract before you started your job, you have every right to expect your employer to live up to its end of the bargain.
Unfortunately, that doesn’t always happen. When your employer violates an employment contract, you may have grounds to fire a wrongful termination suit.
What Happens if You Win a Breach of Contract Suit?
No lawyer can predict how a judge will rule, but in the past, courts have awarded lost wages, benefits, and other compensation the employees in a breach of contract suit should have received.
Violation of Public Policy
A violation of public policy can refer to a number of actions that most people would find “morally or ethically repugnant.” Some of the most common reasons people are wrongfully terminated that are also violations of public policy include reporting illegal conduct, refusing to do something that’s against the law, or exercising a legal right (like voting) or obligation (like jury duty).
What Happens if You Win a Violation of Public Policy/Wrongful Termination Suit?
Again, there’s no way to predict how a judge will rule in your case, but in the past, courts have awarded lost wages and benefits, damages for emotional distress, and punitive damages to people who have won these types of lawsuits.
Do You Need to Talk to a Glendale Employment Lawyer About Being Unfairly Fired?
If you suspect you may have been unfairly fired, whether your workplace was in Glendale, L.A., or one of the surrounding communities, you may benefit from talking to an employment attorney who understands the law and how it pertains to your situation.
Call us at 818-659-8324 or contact us online for a free case review. We’ll examine the facts in your case and help determine whether it’s likely you were unfairly fired. If the facts show that your employer’s actions are against California or federal law, we’ll begin developing a strategy that gets you the best possible outcome.