Wrongful Termination Claims in California
California Is an At-Will Employment State
Under California Labor Code section 2922, most employment in California is considered to be “at will” unless an employment contract specifies the duration of employment. At-will employment means that either you or your employer can terminate the relationship without a reason. There are, however, some restrictions on the conditions under which your employer can fire you. For example, you cannot be terminated for reporting workplace harassment or illegal activity, refusing to engage in unlawful activity, or for choosing to join a labor union. Similarly, you cannot be fired if your termination was motivated by any type of discrimination, such as based on your age, gender, race, religion, or disability.
Exceptions of At-Will Employment
The covenant of good faith states that, while it is not necessary that your employer supply cause for firing you, he or she cannot fire you when your termination would constitute an act of bad faith. An example of this would be firing you in order to avoid paying you a retirement pension or if you suffer an injury. Another exception has to do with implied contracts. If your employer has made oral or written statements that implied that you would enjoy a certain level of job security or that you would have certain recourse against planned termination, then you may be able to sue for breach of the implied contract. It is also possible to file a wrongful termination claim if you were fired for refusing to engage in illegal activity on behalf of your employer. This is known as the public-policy exception.
Wrongful Termination Based on Discrimination
In addition to the three exceptions mentioned above, many wrongful termination lawsuits are based on the plaintiff’s belief that he or she was fired as an act of discrimination. If you have reason to suspect that you were fired based on your race, your age, the fact that you are pregnant, your sexual orientation, or any other type of discrimination, you may have grounds to sue for wrongful termination. Discriminatory firing is prohibited under several different federal and state laws including Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Americans with Disabilities Act, the California Fair Employment and Housing Act, and others. You may also have grounds to sue for wrongful termination if you were fired for acting as a whistleblower by exposing some type of misconduct, fraud or illegal activity within the company. Whistleblowing is a protected activity, and your employer cannot terminate you for exercising this right.
Damages for Wrongful Termination in Los Angeles
If you prevail in your wrongful termination lawsuit, you could stand to recover monetary damages, whether in an out-of-court settlement or in the courtroom. Compensation can include payment of lost wages and lost benefits, damages for emotional distress and the disruption to your lifestyle, loss of credit, and possibly attorney’s fees. Chaleff Rehwald will help you determine how much your case is worth and find out whether you have grounds to sue.
If your employer has discriminated against you, harassed you, wrongfully terminated you, improperly paid or withheld wages from you, retaliated against you, or mistreated you at work, contact Chaleff Rehwald for immediate expert assistance. A lawyer from our team will discuss your options during a comprehensive and free case evaluation. Swift action will be taken on your behalf.