In California, employees can be terminated at any given time without notice and for no reason, as long as that reason is not discriminatory or otherwise illegal. A wrongful termination lawsuit is a legal action in which a worker claims they were fired or laid off for an illegal reason.
What is wrongful termination?
If an employee seeks to win their wrongful termination claim, they must demonstrate the following:
- They are in a class protected from discrimination
- They were performing their job competently but were terminated nonetheless
- Other circumstances suggest they were terminated due to discriminatory motives
California Wrongful Termination Laws
Under the Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA), employees cannot be terminated, harassed, or retaliated against based on their sex, age, race, religion, color, national origin, or gender.
According to the California Labor Code and other state and federal laws, employees cannot be terminated for making legitimate complaints about their pay, wages, other terms of employment, or reporting conduct in violation of state, federal, or local laws or regulations.
Although these laws are in place to protect the rights of California workers, hundreds of employees are terminated illegally in California each year. Before an employee can file a lawsuit for wrongful termination, they must file a complaint with the Department of Fair Housing and Employment (DFEH), Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), or other applicable state or local government agency.
Whistleblower retaliation and termination occur if an employer fires an employee for reporting a potential violation of the law by their employer to a government or law enforcement agency. This is illegal according to California’s main whistleblower protection law, which is Labor Code 1102.5 LC.
Wrongful Termination Laws Protect Employees
An employer must not discharge, terminate, discriminate or retaliate against an employee or applicant for the following reasons:
- The employee is exercising rights guaranteed to them under the California Labor Code
- The employee files a complaint with the Labor Commissioner or with the Department of Fair Employment & Housing (DFEH)
- The employee is testifying or going to testify in a proceeding under the jurisdiction of the Labor Commissioner.
- The employee has made an oral or written complaint about their unpaid wages.
- The employee has filed or intends to file a worker’s compensation claim or has been awarded worker’s compensation benefits
- The employee takes time off from work to serve on a jury
- The employee is a crime victim and needs to appear as a witness in court
- The employee is a victim of domestic violence, sexual assault, or stalking and needs to take time off work to find legal aid for their problems
Generally, employers with 25 or more employees must not discharge, terminate, discriminate or retaliate against an employee who is a victim of domestic violence, sexual assault, or stalking for taking time off from work for any of the following reasons:
- They need to get medical attention
- They need the services of a domestic violence shelter, program, or rape crisis center
- They need to get psychological counseling
- They need to plan for their safety
When an employer violates any of the above provisions, they can be subject to civil penalties under PAGA not exceeding $10,000 per employee for each violation.
Under California laws, some employees may sue their employers even if they were not fired from a job. Constructive termination means that an employer makes working conditions so intolerable for an employee that they have no choice but to resign
An employee may be able to sue for wrongful constructive termination if:
- The employer intentionally created or knowingly permitted working conditions that were so intolerable that a reasonable employer would expect a reasonable employee to resign because of them.
- The employer would not have been within their rights to terminate the employee outright because of an implied oral contract, or because termination would have been against public policy.
Wrongful Termination Lawyers
At Falakassa Law, P.C., our wrongful termination lawyers will evaluate your case very carefully and consider all the important details. We are devoted to providing you with the best legal services and our years-long experience in the field are a testimony to the fact that we are well-equipped to handle your wrongful termination case.
Call 916-680-8486 for a free consultation with a wrongful termination lawyer today.