Do you believe that you were fired by your employer for a reason that just does not make sense? Do you have reason to believe that your employer treated you differently due to your race, religion, national origin, sexual orientation, political opinion, participation in protected conduct (i.e. complaining to your employer about health and safety issues, filing a complaint against the employer formally or informally, reporting your employer’s conduct to a governmental agency, etc.)? Our wrongful termination attorneys can help you get the settlement you deserve. We invite you to contact us for a free consultation to discuss your case in detail with our attorneys to better understand your legal options.
California Wrongful Termination Laws
California’s Labor Code specifies that an employment relationship with no set duration is presumed to be employment at-will. Specifically, an employment, having no specified term, may be terminated at the will of either party on notice to the other. 95% of all employees are at-will employees and the employer can terminate them with or without cause for any reason, unless the employee believes that the termination was due, at least in part, to any of the following:
- National origin
- Disability (mental and physical)
- Medical condition(s)
- Marital status
- Age (for workers over 40)
- Military service or affiliation
- Anticipated military deployment
- Denial of family and medical care leave
- Citizenship status (for citizens, permanent residents, temporary residents)
- Sexual orientation
- Whistleblower Retaliation
- Refusing to break the law
- Reporting unsafe working conditions
- In retaliation for filing a discrimination or safety claim
Thus, if your employer wrongfully terminates you based on any of the above reasons, you will have legal standing to bring a civil cause of action against your employer for damages.
The employment at-will status changes if there is an employment contract between the employer and employee that provides specific provisions for termination, or it may also be altered by a labor union contract if applicable.
How to Sue for Wrongful Termination
In California, prior to filing a civil lawsuit against your employer for wrongful termination, you must first file a claim with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), or the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH).
There are strict filing deadlines so it is important that you promptly file your claim.
The DFEH also works alongside EEOC to investigate complaints of civil rights violations or discrimination. As a wrongfully terminated employee, you can file your complaint with DFEH (the EEOC and DFEH have a “work sharing agreement” under which a charge filed with one is deemed filed with the other), or directly with EEOC.
People tend to file their claim with the EEOC if they intend to pursue federal employment discrimination claims under Title VII or the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Americans with Disabilities Act, or the Age Discrimination in Employment Act. People will file their claim with the DFEH if they intend to pursue state employment discrimination claims under the Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) and medical leave claims under the California Family Rights Act (CFRA). From the employee’s perspective, California substantive and procedural laws are more favorable than under the federal scheme. However, that is not always true.
You should consult with an attorney prior to filing your claim or a civil lawsuit.
In order to win your lawsuit in California State Court for wrongful termination based on discrimination, you will have to prove the following:
- An employment relationship existed between the plaintiff and defendant (example: employee-employer relationship);
- The employee’s employment was terminated by the employer;
- The employee’s protected status (example – race, sexual orientation, national origin) was a substantial motivation for the employer’s decision to terminate the employment; and
- The employee suffered harm as a result of the discriminatory wrongful termination and the employer’s conduct.
If you are considering filing a claim for wrongful termination action, contact Orange County Employment Law Attorneys at Smaili & Associates P.C. for a consultation. We provide legal representation state-wide in California.