In most cases, an employer can choose to terminate a working relationship with an employee at any time. This means that an employer may lay off employees due to reorganization, downsizing, bankruptcy, or for no real reason at all.
However, it is against the law for any employee to be terminated just because of his or her race, religion, gender, or national origin or for engaging in a protected activity. If you believe you were the victim of wrongful termination, please read below. We will discuss the process of filing a wrongful termination claim, statutes of limitation, as well as available damages in the state of California.
Under California Labor Code 2922, all employment in California is presumed to be “at-will” unless both parties reach an agreement otherwise or if there is an exception to at-will employment
If your employment is at-will, your employer can terminate you with or without a valid reason. The majority of employers in the state of California are at-will employers, which makes it easier for them to hire and fire at their convenience. In fact, most at-will employers typically have all new employees sign a document that states they are aware of being employed at-will.
The first and most important action you must take if you were wrongfully terminated is to gather as much relevant evidence as you can and keep it in a safe place.
What does it mean to gather relevant evidence? This means obtaining and safekeeping any written documentation from your employer that is related to your termination, as well as any performance reviews prior to your termination.
Further, any relevant conversations about your termination, job performance, or any discussions that created certain expectations about job security may also be potentially relevant.
It is a good idea to document and safekeep any recollections of all conversations with your employer that are relevant to your termination. Please make sure to include places, dates, and the names of all participants.
An employee typically must file an administrative complaint before proceeding with a lawsuit. Furthermore, any employee who wants to file a lawsuit in California must first file a complaint with the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing. Once the DFEH has completed its investigation, and determined whether or not you have a valid claim, you will be notified if you can file a claim in court.
If you have completed all the necessary administrative complaint filing requirements, you may file a lawsuit. It is important that you consult with an experienced wrongful termination lawyer in order to achieve the best possible outcome.
The statute of limitations for a wrongful termination claim will depend on the specific circumstances of your wrongful termination. Regardless of your specific claim, the clock starts running when you were first terminated or retaliated against.
The statute of limitations is two (2) years when it comes to wrongful termination that is in violation of an implied oral contract and two (2) years for wrongful termination in violation of public policy.
The statute of limitations is three (3) years when it comes to whistleblower wrongful termination.
The various types of damages awarded after a successful wrongful termination claim may include:
Emotional distress. Damages for emotional distress may include compensation for your mental suffering, anxiety, loss of enjoyment of life, or humiliation after unfairly losing your job.
Lost wages and benefits. Damages for lost wages and benefits are intended to cover the back pay an employee would have earned if he or she was not wrongfully terminated; this also includes the value of any benefits an employee would have received in the same period, as well.
Punitive damages. In rare instances, an employee may also be entitled to punitive damages after a wrongful termination suit. Punitive damages are intended to punish an employer for its unlawful behavior and are not related to any of the previously discussed damages. Punitive damages will only ever be awarded when an employer is found guilty of oppression, malice, or fraud.
If you have made up your mind to take action, it is important to work with an attorney that specializes in cases like yours. The wrongful termination lawyers at West Coast Employment Lawyers have extensive experience handling wrongful termination cases. We will work tirelessly to gather the facts, find and interview eyewitnesses, hire experts, and fight for your rights.
We work on a contingency basis, which means we only get attorney’s fees if we are able to recover for you. Our legal team is available 24/7 and will take care of your case from start to finish. For a free no-obligation consultation with a wrongful termination attorney in California, contact our office at 1-800-247-9235.
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