If you have been fired from your job, you may have a lot of questions. Was it legal for my employer to fire me? What happens next? Knowing your legal rights may help you get your job back or sue your employer for wrongful termination.

Looking for a wrongful termination attorney? At Hardin & Lott, we can represent you in a case against employers who may have terminated you for an unfair reason, as per California’s employment or anti-discrimination laws. We help you better understand termination laws. Call or send us an email to get in touch with an expert lawyer for wrongful termination.

At Will Employees

If you believe that you have been wrongfully terminated by your California employer, the first issue to address is whether you were an “at will” employee. At will employees may be terminated at any time, for any reason, as long as the reason is not illegal. While you can check your offer letter, employment contract, or other human resources documents for information about your status, this information is often not available. Of course your employer will try to claim that you are an at-will employee, but, as we can attest, that is not always the case.

A second way to prove you are not an at will employee is by looking at what your employer said or did to “imply” you were promised continued employment. If the wrongful termination case goes to court, a judge might look at the history of your employment relationship, such as how long you worked for the employer, what your performance reviews were like, how often you received promotions, and whether there were promises that you would continue working there. If you can show you were not an at-will employee and that you were fired without cause, you may succeed in a wrongful termination claim.

Examples of Wrongful Termination

The reasons an employer can wrongfully terminate an employee are many. Examples of wrongful termination include:

  • Physical disability (FEHA or ADA)
  • Mental disability
  • Use of Family Medical Leave (FMLA or CFRA)
  • Pregnancy
  • Race
  • Religion or religious practices
  • Gender
  • Age
  • Sexual orientation (i.e. homosexual, bi-sexual, etc.)
  • Gender identity (i.e. transgender, etc.)
  • Pregnancy or maternity leave
  • National origin
  • Political affiliation
  • Retaliation for workplace health and safety complaints
  • Retaliation for complaining about unpaid wages or other Labor Code violations

This list is not exhaustive. Contact our offices to learn more about ways a Califoria employer can wrongfully terminate an employee.

Discrimination and Wrongful Termination

If you believe you were terminated because of your race, color, national origin, gender, religion, age, disability, pregnancy, or genetic information, you would be well-advised to speak with an employment lawyer right away. There are time limits on how long you can wait to bring a wrongful termination claim based on discrimination. There are also special procedural steps you must take before bringing suit in California, such as seeking a “right to sue” letter from state and federal agencies. Our office can walk you through this process.

Retaliation and Wrongful Termination

Discrimination claims often go hand-in-hand with retaliation claims. If you complain about discrimination or act as a “whistleblower” to your California employer, the employer may fire you in an illegal effort to “get rid of” the problem — you.

To prove that you were fired due to your employer’s unlawful retaliation, you must show that:

  1. You were doing something protected, such as reporting illegal behavior, or reporting harassment or discrimination;
  2. This complaint or series of complaints caused your employer to act — this often means the employer threatened or punished you for complaining; and
  3. There was an adverse result, i.e. because you complained, you were taken off the work schedule, denied a promotion, or fired.

Whistleblowers and Wrongful Termination

Whistleblowers have special legal protections in many states, including California. As long as an employee reasonably believes the employer violated state or federal laws, rules, or regulations of a government or law enforcement agency, an employee is entitled to report the violation to the employer without retaliation, or the threat of retaliation.

An employee needs to only report the suspected illegal behavior to a person with authority over the employee who authority to investigate, discover, or correct the violation. The employee can also report the suspected illegal behavior to an outside public body that can conduct an investigation or hearing. The employer cannot prevent whistleblowing by enacting a rule to prevent disclosure of illegal behavior.

Employers in California face serious litigation risk when terminating an employee without adequate documentation and without adequate testimony that they had a legal reason for the termination.

Financial Recovery for Wrongful Termination

A wrongfully terminated employee in California is entitled to recover past and future lost wages and benefits, as well as emotional distress damages. Attorney’s fees and costs are also recoverable. Additionally, punitive damages are available when the employer’s conduct was particularly reprehensible, malicious or done in willful disregard of an employee’s legal rights.

The Right Employment Law Attorneys

If you have been mistreated by your employer, contact Hardin & Lott, a Los Angeles and Orange County-based employment law firm with experience in representing employees just like you.

If you or someone you know has been harmed by an illegal labor/employment practice, you want experience and success on your side. Contact the knowledgeable lawyers at Hardin & Lott today.

(949) 337-4810, (310) 606-2122, or (844) 615-1122

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