As an employment law firm practicing in the area of wrongful terminations, we often get questions from clients regarding an illegal firing. Examples of such questions include:
- Was my firing illegal?
- Can I sue my employer for wrongful termination?
- Do I have a wrongful termination case?
- How do you prove wrongful termination?
- I believe my firing was illegal. Can you listen to my story and let me know if I have a case?
Being fired from your job is an event that can turn your entire life upside-down. Losing your job can an extremely stressful time because you all of a sudden have lost your steady stream of income which you use to pay for food, rent/mortgage, loans, and the livelihood of your family.
Being terminated from your job may feel like you have been wronged in some way, and this feeling that you have may be based on legal grounds. The state of California is an “at-will” state. Being at-will means that an employer can terminate an employee for any reason or for no reason at all. The reason, of course, must be within the confines of the law and cannot violate any federal or state laws, nor any local ordinances. If an employer dismisses an employee for any reason that does violate any laws or exceptions, the firing is known as “wrongful termination.”
If you believe that your firing was wrongful termination, you may have a right to file a lawsuit against your former employer. Do you have the legal grounds to file a lawsuit against your former employer? Here are a few things that may help you determine if you have a wrongful termination case.
If you feel your current attorney is not maximizing your case value, contact our firm for a free second opinion.
Was My Firing Illegal?
Even though California is an at-will state and gives your employer to fire you with or without reason, it does not mean that they can fire you for any reason. The employer cannot breach any contract (written or oral); they cannot violate public policy (federal, state, nor local); and the employer cannot retaliate against any employee who brought unsafe or illegal work practices to light. To prove a wrongful termination, you would consider various scenarios.
Breach of Contract:
If you signed an employee contract which states certain promises, job security, growth, and other aspects, you have a strong argument against you being an at-will employee. For example, in your contract it may explicitly state that your employer can only dismiss you if they have a good cause or for reasons which are inscribed in the contract.
Not every place of employment has employees sign contracts. There may have been, however, an implied employment contract which is an exception to the at-will rule which California employment law follows. Implied employment contracts are agreements that were made on behaviors or things said by your employer regarding your future under their employment. Implied contracts are difficult to prove as many employers speak carefully and try not to make any promises. When deciding whether or not there was a breach of an implied contract, courts consider a number of factors:
- Duration of employment
- History of positive job performance
- Promises made that your employment would continue
- If your employer violated usual practices in firing you
- If long-term promises were made upon your hire.
- Job promotion regularity
Breaches of Fair Dealing
Your employer may have acted unfairly towards you when they terminated you, and so you may have the rights to file a breach of a duty of good faith and fair dealings claim against your former employer. Typically, when courts find that there has been a breach of a duty of good fair and fair dealing, they take a look at certain actions the employer took against their former employee:
- Transferring or firing employees in order to prevent them from collecting their commission they are due;
- Deceive or misguide employees about their potential wage increases and promotions;
- A complete fabrication about the employee’s dismissal when the true motivation behind the termination was to replace that employee with someone else who will work for less;
- Sending or transferring the employee to remote, dangerous, or otherwise irksome assignments which all but forces the employee to quit so that the employee does not collect a severance package upon their leave;
- Not detailing the negative aspects of a job, like having to travel to dangerous neighborhoods late at night.
Breaking Public Policy
It is against the law for employers to violate public policy and fire an employee. A termination that is not legal or based on any legal grounds is called a “wrongful termination,” and gives you the right to file a lawsuit against your employer. Before you can file a wrongful termination suit against your former employer, the courts usually require there be a specific law in place as many state and federal laws that exist specify under what grounds an employer can fire an employee. An employer cannot fire an employee for the following reasons:
- Discrimination or retaliation against the employee
- Taking time off work to serve on a jury
- Taking time off work to fulfill civic duty and vote
- Serving in the military
- Taking advantage of and filing a legal right
It is against the law for an employer to fire employees for reasons that are in violation of the state and federal laws put in place to protect certain groups of people. Here are a few things to know if you believe your termination was unlawful.
- Termination Discrimination for pregnancy;
- Termination discrimination for race;
- Termination discrimination for gender;
- Termination discrimination for age;
- Termination discrimination for sex;
- Termination discrimination for sexual orientation.
If you believe that the reason for your termination fits under these laws, you may have a right to file a wrongful termination lawsuit against your former employer. Our Los Angeles wrongful termination attorneys can sue your employer and get you the justice that you deserve. Based in Los Angeles, our lawyers take cases from the entire state of California.
It is unlawful for employers from retaliating against their employees who partake in legally protected activity. How can you prove that your employer retaliated against you and fired you? Termination retaliation is unlawful for:
- Complaining about workplace conditions (dangerous conditions)
- Complaining about illegal business activity
- Show that you engaged in a legally protected action, like, for example, filing a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission against your employer. Your job is legally protected if you file a complaint.
- That your employer acted negatively towards you and had adverse effects on you and your position. For example, you were denied promotion, fired, or given an unjust negative review about your performance at work.
- Your employer cannot retaliate against you if your activity forced them to act. They cannot terminate you if they find out you are going to file a lawsuit against them for racial discrimination.
Employees are protected from whistle-blowing against their employer because of the whistle-blowing laws that protect the employee. The whistleblower laws protect employees who bring to light any illegal activity, which breaks laws, regulations, or ordinances, in which their employer is taking part.
Can I Sue My Former Employer for Wrongful Termination?
Before you file a lawsuit your employer for wrongful termination, you must first file a charge with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) or the Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH). Depending on the circumstances that surround your particular wrongful termination, it is necessary that you file your lawsuit within a certain time limit, known as the statute of limitations. If the statute of limitations expires before you can file your suit, you will be barred from pursuing the lawsuit. If you would like to speak more about this with a wrongful termination lawyer at our firm, please contact us.
If you believe that your former employer wrongfully terminated you from the job you held on either discrimination, retaliation, and harassment, you have 12 months to file the lawsuit in court. If the EEOC believes your claim to be legitimate, you will be given a “right-to-sue” letter which gives you the right to sue your employer. The time allotted to file a lawsuit or claim against your former employer gives you 90-300 days to file your lawsuit, from the date you receive your right-to-sue letter. An attorney can make this entire process much, much shorter by acquiring the right-to-sue letter right away and promptly begin the lawsuit.
If your employer terminated you in breach of public policy, meaning they terminated you for practicing your rights, you have two years to file a lawsuit against them from the date your employer dismissed you from your employee duties. Should your employer have terminated you for breach of contract, you have two years from the breach of the written or oral contract that was made when you signed on.
Do I Have a Wrongful Termination Case?
The best way to determine whether or not you have a strong wrongful termination case is to contact an employment lawyer and have them review your case. Here at the California Employment Attorneys Group, you have free consultation and a zero fee guarantee. The free consultation means that we will sit down with you and listen to you as you present your case to us. We will evaluate your case and give you our thoughts on whether you have a strong enough case. The zero fee guarantee means that you will not pay anything unless we win the case. This removes any financial risk from you and transfers it all on us.
Free Consultation and Zero Fee Guarantee
Based on our experience and past case results, we believe we are the best wrongful termination lawyers in Los Angeles. The California Employment Attorneys Group offers a zero fee guarantee. We never require our clients to pay any upfront fees. We will work on your case on a contingency fee structure, and when your case settles, our fee will be calculated based on whatever we recovered for you. Our attorneys also offer free consultations and free case reviews. Call or email us today to find out more about your rights.
“I am so grateful to have found the California Labor Law Employment Attorneys Group. The advice of Igor provided the best possible outcome with my termination agreement. Every point that he recommended was granted. I couldn’t have asked for more. Igor was the second Employment Lawyer I worked with during this very stressful time and my only regret is that I didn’t find him first. I can’t say enough about how he looked out for all of my interests, him sound professional advice and a very caring and uplifting positive manner.”