Do I Have a Wrongful Termination Case?
When it comes to employment, losing your job can be an overwhelming and confusing experience, especially if you believe that your termination was unjust. In the state of California, understanding the ins and outs of wrongful termination laws is crucial if you’re considering taking legal action against a former employer.
Grounds for Wrongful Termination Claims
These are the main grounds for a wrongful termination claim in California:
Employers are prohibited from firing workers based on their membership in a protected class, such as race, gender, sexual orientation, pregnancy status, age, or disability.
For example, if an employer fired a female employee just because she became pregnant, this would be considered wrongful termination due to discrimination based on pregnancy status.
Under The Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA), employers are not allowed to retaliate against employees who oppose harassment or discrimination, file a complaint about such behaviors, or testify in an investigation or lawsuit related to these issues.
An example might involve an employee who reports sexual harassment to their human resources department, only to be fired shortly. In this case, the employee may have grounds for a wrongful termination lawsuit based on retaliation.
Breach of Contract/Implied Contract
If you’re fired and it goes against a written or unwritten employment agreement, you might have a wrongful termination case based on breach of contract.
Initial Steps to Take After Losing Your Job
If you believe you have been wrongfully terminated, consider the following steps:
- Contact an experienced California wrongful termination lawyer. This should be done as soon as you suspect you have a claim. An attorney will be able to determine if you have a case and advise you on your best course of action.
- Gather and preserve all available evidence related to your case. This includes any relevant documentation, such as employment files, performance evaluations, and correspondences with your employer.
Proving Wrongful Termination
Building a case for wrongful termination typically involves gathering various types of evidence, such as:
- Keep a detailed record of any workplace incidents or conversations related to your termination, including date, location, and participants.
- Save and print electronic correspondences, such as emails and social media posts, as they can be deleted or altered later.
- Determine if there are eyewitness accounts from colleagues or supervisors who can attest to the circumstances leading up to your termination.
- Gather any company employment data that may indicate a systematic prejudice against certain groups or individuals.
Damages in Wrongful Termination Cases
Damages vary depending on the basis of the lawsuit. Typically, they include:
- Lost wages and benefits with interest: This refers to the income, bonuses, commissions, and other benefits you lost because of the termination.
- Reinstatement: If your case is successful, the court may order your employer to reinstate you to your former position or an equivalent one.
- Future wages/front pay: If reinstatement isn’t possible, you might be entitled to compensation for future lost wages.
- Emotional distress/pain and suffering: Wrongful termination can take a toll on your mental and emotional well-being. You may be able to recover damages for this pain and suffering.
- Attorney’s fees and litigation costs: If you win your case, the employer could be ordered to pay your attorney’s fees and other expenses related to your lawsuit.
- Punitive damages: These damages are meant to punish the employer for their behavior and discourage similar behavior in the future.
- Declaratory and injunctive relief: In some instances, the court may issue orders to prevent the employer from continuing their unlawful practices.
If you believe you have grounds for a wrongful termination claim, contacting an Orange County employment lawyer immediately is essential. Contact Sessions & Kimball to schedule a free consultation.