How to Sue an Employer for Wrongful Termination
Are you a victim of wrongful termination? California is an at-will employment state as recognized under California Labor Code section 2922. However, simply because you are employed on an at-will basis does not allow an employer to fire an employee for an unlawful reason. If you believe that your termination was wrongful, then you need to explore the true reasons for your termination, which may have grounds for filing a lawsuit against your employer. Below will cover what you need to know about suing an employer for wrongful termination in California. It will discuss the basics of California employment law, the grounds for a wrongful termination suit, how to file your lawsuit against your employer in California and the damages you may request when suing for wrongful termination. For more information, contact wrongful termination attorneys in Ontario, California, like the attorneys at MC Law APC, for a complimentary case review to determine if you should proceed with a lawsuit.
What is Wrongful Termination?
Wrongful termination is when an employee is terminated for reasons that are unlawful and against public policy. In California, it is illegal to terminate someone based on discrimination or in retaliation for exercising their legally protected rights under California’s Fair Employment and Housing Act (Government Code section 12940 et seq. and Labor Code section 1102.5).
Overview of California’s Employment Law
Under Labor Code section 2922, California considers nearly all employees to be employed on an at-will basis unless there is an employment contract. This means that an employer or employee can terminate the employment relationship, without prior notice, for any reason, as long as the reason for termination is not unlawful or illegal. However, the Fair Employment and Housing Act (Government Code section 12940, et seq.) and the California Labor Code (Labor Code section 1102.5) prohibit an employer from terminating an at-will employee if a motivating reason is due to complaints about unlawful discrimination, harassment, or retaliation based on the employee engaging in protected activity (e.g., complaints about discrimination, complaints about sexual harassment, complaints about not being paid properly, etc.). Wrongful termination attorneys in Ontario, California can help you determine if your employer violated your rights and broke the law and advise you if you have a case against your former employer for wrongful termination.
Determine the Grounds for a Wrongful Termination Suit
Under California’s employment laws, to must evaluate the facts of your termination to determine if you have a case for wrongful termination against your former employer. In order to sue your employer for wrongful termination in California, there are common fact patterns that help you prove your case for wrongful termination. Below are three possible grounds to bring a wrongful termination lawsuit:
- Was there unlawful discrimination or harassment that is prohibited under California’s Fair Employment and Housing Act? An employee may have grounds for a lawsuit against their employer if they suffered unlawful discrimination or unlawful harassment that led to their termination.
- Did the employer violate a legally recognized public policy protected under the Fair Employment and Housing Act or California’s Labor Code? An employee may have grounds for a suit if their termination was based on a violation of public policy, such as refusing to perform an unlawful task.
- Was the termination retaliatory? An employee may have grounds for a suit if their termination was in response to exercising their rights, such as filing a workers’ compensation claim or taking time off for jury duty.
Filing Your Lawsuit Against Your Employer in California
Before you file your lawsuit against your employer, it is important to be prepared and understand the process. First, you must consult with experienced wrongful termination attorneys in Ontario, California who have extensive experience in wrongful termination cases. Your attorney can review the facts of your case and help you determine the best strategy to determine what course of action to protect your best interests.
Once you have decided to move forward, it’s time to gather evidence that strengthens your claim. This can include emails between yourself and your former employer, text messages with your former employer, supervisors or co-workers, performance reviews from your employer, employee handbooks, formal write ups from your former employer, or other documents related to the termination. It is important to retain as much documentary evidence as possible in order to prove your case.
Damages You May Request When Suing for Wrongful Termination in California
When suing for wrongful termination, there are different types of damages you can request from your former employer. Depending on the facts of your case, they may include:
- Lost wages (also known as Back Pay) and future lost wages (also known as Front Pay)(CACI 3903P).
- Emotional Distress Damages that are the result of the wrongful termination (CACI 3905a).
- Punitive damages based on the employer’s malicious and intentional conduct (CACI 3294).
- Attorneys’ fees and costs of litigation (Government Code section 12965(b) and Labor Code section 1102.5(j).
Wrongful Termination Attorneys in Ontario, California
If you believe that you were wrongfully terminated, it is important to speak with experienced wrongful termination attorneys in Ontario, California. At Mark Charles Law APC, we can review the facts of your case and help you determine if you have grounds for a wrongful termination lawsuit. We can also advise you on how to proceed with the preparation of your case, filing your lawsuit, and determine the possible damages your employer may owe. With our experience, you will receive the assistance and protection that you deserve.