Orange County Wrongful Termination Attorneys
Being terminated from a job can be incredibly stressful, and it can be even more devastating if you’ve been fired for a reason that you believe is unlawful. If you believe this has happened to you, it’s essential to know your rights so you can figure out what to do next. If you’ve been wrongfully terminated or forced to quit as a result of an intolerable work environment, please contact the employment law office of Sessions & Kimball. Make an appointment or call us at (949) 380-0900 to schedule a free consultation with one of our Orange County wrongful termination lawyers.
At-Will Employment in California
California is an “at-will” employment state, which means that employers can dismiss employees at any time, without warning, for any reason that is not prohibited by law. This means that you can be fired for many other reasons than because you aren’t doing a good job. No matter how long you’ve been at a company and how valuable you believe you are, your job is almost always at risk if you are an at-will employee in California.
The law still allows employees to file wrongful termination claims when unlawful reasons motivated their discharge. Certain characteristics are protected by California and/or federal law, including the following:
- National origin
- Religious creed
- Medical condition
- Genetic information
- Marital status
- Military or veteran status
- Gender identity or expression
- Sexual orientation
- Use of family medical leave
- Political activities or beliefs
An employee’s membership in one of these protected categories cannot be used as a basis for termination. If you suspect that you have been discharged from your job for an unlawful reason or because of your membership in one of these protected categories, the best course of action is to speak with an experienced Orange County employment lawyer as soon as possible. You may have the right to file a wrongful termination claim for compensation.
Why You Need Sessions & Kimball
We are Orange County’s largest employment law firm, exclusively representing employees and executives. When you call our office, you will speak with a wrongful termination attorney who will evaluate the case rather than be pre-screened by the receptionist or another non-attorney. This saves you time and shows you that we take every case seriously and treat every client the way we’d want our own family members to be treated.
Constructive Termination Can Give Rise to Wrongful Termination Claims
Wrongful termination could still be claimed in some instances when the employee has resigned due to intolerable working conditions. When working conditions become so severe and pervasive that no reasonable person could be expected to continue working and an employee is forced to quit, this is known as “constructive termination,” which can give rise to a wrongful termination claim.
For example, an employee who is being harassed because of their gender, sexual orientation, race, or disability may have no choice but to quit, particularly when the employer knows about the harassment and allows it to continue. In such a case, the employee’s “voluntary” separation can be treated in the same manner as involuntary termination for the purpose of claiming wrongful termination.
How Do You Prove Constructive Termination?
In order to prove construction termination, an employee must show the following:
- Your employer was trying to force you to resign by intentionally and knowingly creating an employment environment that was intolerable and aggravated;
- The unbearable, hostile workplace gave you no choice but to resign; and,
- Your employer was motivated to get rid of you for illegal, retaliatory, or discriminatory reasons.
It’s not enough to show that you simply didn’t like your job or your environment was unpleasant. To prove construction termination, your workplace environment must have been so unpleasant that any reasonable person in your position would have felt like they needed to quit as well. Additionally, your employer must have known how you felt about your workplace environment.
Remedies For Wrongful Termination
If you’ve been wrongfully terminated or have been forced to quit due to a hostile work environment that your employer failed to remedy, you have options. If you’re successful in bringing a lawsuit against your employer, there are several different types of damages you might be able to recover. An Orange County wrongful termination attorney can help you navigate the process.
Lost Wages and Benefits
You may be able to recover unpaid wages you lost out on by being wrongfully terminated. This includes the amount of money you could’ve reasonably expected to earn and what you would’ve reasonably expected to earn in the future. This can also include benefits, such as health insurance.
Emotional Distress/Pain And Suffering
When a person is wrongfully terminated, this often leads to feelings of shame and embarrassment, as well as grief, anxiety, and loss of enjoyment of life. If you can prove you were wrongfully terminated, you can be compensated for these feelings.
If you successfully file a wrongful termination claim against your employer, they may be required to pay your attorney’s fees.
Another type of damages you can collect if you are successful in your claim is punitive damages. Punitive damages are intended to punish the employer for their unlawful behavior and deter them and other companies from engaging in this behavior again in the future.
Retaliation is Illegal
It’s really important to understand that certain workplace actions are protected, and if an employer fires you as a result of engaging in a protected activity, this is considered retaliation and is not permitted.
If you partake in any of the following activities and your employee retaliates against you by firing you or punishing you/engaging in an adverse employment action against you, they can certainly get in trouble, and you will likely be entitled to compensation. If you engage in the following activities, you should be protected from retaliation:
- Reporting, investigating, or partaking in a hearing for harassment in the workplace
- Reporting, investigating, or partaking in a hearing about sexual harassment in the workplace
- Reporting, investigating, or partaking in a hearing about workplace discrimination
- Reporting, investigating, or partaking in a hearing about unpaid wages and unpaid overtime
- Reporting, investigating, or partaking in a hearing about workplace hazards or injuries in the workplace
- Reporting, investigating, or partaking in a hearing about the involvement of your employer engaging in illegal activities and violations of employee rights
Even if you report behavior that you think is illegal and it isn’t, or you’re mistaken about the behavior, as long as you reported it in good faith, you should be protected and cannot be retaliated against. This is true whether you brought your complaint to your employer or a larger organization, such as the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
Examples of Retaliation
Workplace retaliation can occur in several ways, and it doesn’t always just mean that you’ve been fired. It can include the following:
- Being demoted
- Having supervisors write up unsatisfactory job evaluations when your performance is up to par and hasn’t changed
- Being demoted in title or pay
- Being relocated to a different unit or location that your employer knows is inconvenient and unwarranted
- Switching your shift to a time that your employer knows is difficult or impossible for you to work
- Being fired
It absolutely doesn’t matter if you are an at-will employee. Your employer still cannot retaliate against you in an unlawful way.
Steps to Take if You Believe you’re Being Retaliated Against
If you believe your employer has illegally retaliated against you by firing you or engaging in any other adverse employment action against you, the following step steps are crucial:
1. Gather Information
Gather as much information as possible. If your employer is bold enough to retaliate against you illegally, you want to make sure you take note of absolutely everything they do and say. Keep all emails they send you, take notes of what they say to you in person, and follow up with emails based on any conversations you’ve had in person as well.
Potential evidence might include internal documents if you have access to them, emails, text messages, videos, speaking with witnesses, and anything else you can come up with that will provide evidence of your account of retaliation.
2. Speak with an Employment Lawyer
If you believe you’ve been retaliated against, you should contact an Orange County wrongful termination lawyer right away. Provide them with any information you have and then talk to them about the next steps.
Legal Protection against Wrongful Termination in Orange County
At Sessions & Kimball LLP, we exclusively represent California employees. Our employment law practice is focused on protecting employee rights in a range of matters, including wrongful termination. Our Orange County wrongful termination attorneys have recovered millions of dollars for our clients. If you believe that you have been wrongfully terminated, or you were forced to resign because of intolerable working conditions, contact our office to arrange for free case consultation with one of our attorneys. Fill out our online contact form or call us at (949) 380-0900 for a free consultation today.