How Much Is a Wrongful Termination Case Worth?
The state of California follows the “at-will” doctrine when it comes to employee-employer relations. The at-will doctrine essentially states that an employer can dismiss an employee with or without any just cause. There are exceptions to the at-will doctrine which protects employees. The at-will doctrine does not give the employers the right to fire an employee for simply any reason which occurs to them. If you believe that you have been wrongfully terminated, it is important that you hire the right wrongful termination attorney to represent you.
What Is Wrongful Termination and How Is It Defined?
Even though all terminations seem “wrong” on some level, not all terminations are wrongful in the eyes of the law. Wrongful termination has a very strict definition in accordance with the law, but if you believe that your termination was unlawful and classifies as wrongful termination you may have grounds to file a case against your employer for wrongful termination.
In order for your firing to be considered “wrongful termination,” one of two actions must have occurred in order for you to file a lawsuit against your former boss:
The first being that the employer discharged you from your position in a manner that breaks any written contract with stipulations guaranteeing certain aspects regarding your job that was signed by you during the time you were instated as an employee. The contract, however, does not have to be written: The employer could have also made an oral, or implied contract stating raises, promotions, and minimum time with the company. For example, it is considered wrongful termination if you were fired after only 2 months of good work when your contract states that you were guaranteed 6 (or anything more than 2).
The second condition is that your employer violated a state and federal employment laws that were written to protect employees from unfair dismissal. Each law varies from state to state, ordinance from ordinance. In the state of California, it is illegal to fire an employee for the following reasons:
- Discrimination: An employer cannot fire an employee based on the employee’s race, gender, country of origin, religion, sex, age, disability, sexual orientation, or gender identity.
- Retaliation: If the employer finds out that the employee is going to file a suit against them, the employer cannot retaliate and fire them.
- Whistleblower: If the employee has reported the employer for illegal activity, the employer cannot fire them.
- Practicing Legal Rights: An employee cannot lose their job because they missed time to vote, serve on a jury, or was called into action.
What Is Considered for a Wrongful Termination Claim?
There are many factors which are considered for every wrongful termination claim, but many courts often take into account the big the three which the employee might have suffered as a result of their wrongful termination:
Wage Loss: The amount the employee has lost in wages which start from the day that the employee was terminated from his or her position.
Lost Benefits: The value of the benefits that the employee lost, like health care, vacation time, and retirement accounts.
Emotional Distress: While it is often subjective, it can be taken into account when the wrongful termination is based on harassment or discrimination.
As an employment law firm practicing in the area of wrongful terminations, we have seen many cases of employees getting wrongfully fired, and we are here to provide justice to all people who have been wrongfully terminated. We often get asked the following types of questions asked by our clients:
- What is the average settlement value of a wrongful termination case?
- What is the average case value of a wrongful termination case?
- How much is a wrongful termination case worth?
- How much can you sue a company for wrongful termination?
- How much should you settle for wrongful termination?
What is the average settlement value of a wrongful termination case?
Many businesses hire employees and have them sign an employee contract and believe they can terminate them for reasonable causes. But what may seem reasonable for the employer, may not be for the employee and so they take actions against their employer.
Many wrongful termination cases, however, never reach the courtroom. Rather, many cases are settled before they can reach the court. More often than not, settlement is seen as the best option for both parties because of the unpredictable nature of civil trials.
The average settlement for the average wrongful termination case is approximately $40,000. For those that take their case to court, the average amount spikes up slightly to $45,000. This amount, of course, is subject to change depending on the circumstances of your case – whether it was discrimination, harassment, or based on other wrongful termination grounds.
What is the average case value of a wrongful termination case?
In order for an attorney to put a value on your case, the attorney must use their knowledge regarding the type of case, the kind of employer that is being accused of wrongful termination, and the jurisdiction of that case.
Wrongful termination covers a broad spectrum and the value of each case varies. For example, a wrongful termination based on disability discrimination under the Americans with Disabilities Act usually allows for punitive damages (damages which the employer must pay for their disregard of the law), while age discrimination, for instance, does not allow for such damages.
The amount can also vary by employer. Some employers may not be keen on settling and might be willing to take it all the way to court. If the employer is small, their ability to pay the settlement may be very limited.
If you feel your current attorney is not maximizing your case value, contact our firm for a free second opinion.
How much is a wrongful termination case worth?
Every wrongful termination case is different – even if the reason for firing is the same. There are, however, some general principles which can be applied to each case in order to give the case a range of how much there is to be won.
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Lost wages are some of the most impactful sources of damages in any wrongful termination claim. In essence, these damages compensate an individual for the money that was lost from being terminated. In addition to lost wages, loss of benefits play a role as well. Any health care and retirement accounts may be quantified and added to the amount awarded.
Punitive damages have the potential of increasing the value of the case, but are not available in every single wrongful termination lawsuit. They are generally awarded only if the courts deem that the employer is in need of greater punishment for their acting maliciously.
How much can you sue a company for wrongful termination?
This depends on the kind of wrongful termination that your employer committed. If your employer breached the contract under which you were employed, the employee can sue their employer for what they were entitled to throughout their contract. For example, if an employee signed a three-year contract and were fired after only two years, they may be entitled to that last year’s pay. The employee, however, must minimize damages and look for other work. I.e. the employee cannot sit on the couch and collect checks.
If the termination was discriminatory, the employee has the right to the following damages:
- Attorney and court fees.
- Back pay – The amount the employee would have made if not wrongfully terminated from the date of termination.
- Front pay – The amount the employee would have made, but if reinstatement is not possible, these payments may continue until the employee finds a new job.
- Punitive damages.
- Compensatory damages – Out-of-pocket expenses caused by discrimination to which the employee was exposed.
Federal law limits the last two; together they cannot exceed $50,000 – $300,000, depending, of course, on the size of the employer. Some states place a cap as well, while others do not.
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