California laws protect the rights of employees to have fair access to get and retain a job. Unfortunately, some employers do not adhere to the law, and employees are wrongfully terminated from their jobs. A wrongful termination is a difficult experience that can stir up feelings of anger, confusion, and distress. You may also be wondering if you can claim some compensation from your employer for your wrongful termination.
Wrongful termination lawsuits involve a complicated mix of federal, state, and local laws, each with its own strict filing processes and deadlines. At King & Siegel LLP, we are experienced Oakland wrongful termination lawyers who know how to navigate all levels and processes of wrongful termination claims. We are passionate about protecting employee rights and are not afraid to be aggressive if necessary. To give you more insight into wrongful termination lawsuits in California, the knowledgeable attorneys at King & Siegel LLP compiled a list of common questions and information.
What Is At-Will Employment?
You may have heard the term “at-will employee” when you were hired by your employer. This means your employment is for an indefinite amount of time, and either you or the employer can terminate your employment at any time for any reason. However, employers must still follow federal, state, and local laws that protect an employee’s right to work in a safe, non-hostile environment free from discrimination.
Being Terminated as Retaliation for a Legally Protected Act
Employees are protected from retaliation by many California laws. You are allowed to report sexual harassment, unsafe working conditions, illegal behavior, and hostile work environments without the fear of losing your job. You also cannot be penalized for exercising your rights to file a workers’ compensation claim or take accrued sick leave. Additionally, employees are allowed to talk about their salaries to each other and not face termination.
Termination may also be wrongful under the California Labor Code if you are fired in retaliation for:
- Participating in jury duty,
- Testifying in a trial pursuant to a subpoena, or
- Taking time off to seek treatment or legal protection after being the victim of a crime.
If you have been wrongfully terminated in retaliation for engaging in protected activity, talk to an experienced attorney at King & Siegel to learn if you have grounds for a wrongful termination claim.
Types of Discrimination That Can Be Cited in Wrongful Termination Claims
- National origin,
- Physical or mental disability,
- Medical condition,
- Sexual orientation,
- Gender identity,
- Pregnancy, and
- Veteran status.
For the best analysis of your situation, call and talk to one of the Oakland wrongful termination lawyers at King & Siegel LLP.
Are There Exceptions to Discrimination?
The FEHA contains limited exceptions that are not considered discriminatory acts. For example, if you become physically or mentally disabled and can no longer perform the duties of the job, employers can legally disqualify you from the position due to your disability and not be liable. An attorney can help you determine whether a valid exception applies to your situation.
I Had an Employment Agreement; Can I Sue?
Yes, labor laws allow employees who have an employment agreement to sue the employer if the employer wrongfully terminates the agreement. For example, if an employer terminates a three-year employment agreement after one year, the employee may have grounds to file a wrongful termination suit.
Do Employers Have to Notify Me About a Layoff?
California laws require employers to provide notice of a layoff in limited circumstances. An employer who had more than 75 employees during the last 12 months must provide their employees with 60 days’ notice before the date of a:
- Mass layoff, meaning a 50% workforce reduction in 30 days or less;
- Relocation to a new facility that is 100 miles or more away from the current location; or
- Termination due to the facility being shut down.
Talk to an experienced wrongful termination lawyer in Oakland to review whether your employer violated your right to notice.
Should I File a Lawsuit or a Claim with a Government Agency?
Depending on the laws that support your wrongful termination lawsuit, you may be required to file a claim with a state agency, such as a retaliation or equal pay act claim with the Department of Industrial Relations, before you can proceed with a civil lawsuit. The filing deadlines are often shorter than the limitations on civil suits. It is imperative to work with knowledgeable Oakland wrongful termination attorneys to ensure you follow all necessary procedures.
How Will I Be Compensated in a Wrongful Termination Lawsuit?
The events leading up to your termination will determine the exact types of compensation that you can recover. However, employees can usually receive the following remedies:
- Being reinstated to their position,
- Recovering lost wages for the termination period, and
- Receiving the amount of lost work benefits during the termination.
An employer who violates the FEHA may also be liable for a fine of up to $25,000.
Contact Us for a Free Consultation
Wrongful termination lawsuits are complicated because they involve federal, state, and local laws. Having an experienced wrongful termination attorney in Oakland will help you better understand the process and ensure you follow the proper laws and procedures. Our compassionate, trustworthy attorneys at King & Siegel LLP have recovered tens of millions of dollars for past clients. Let us help you fight for your rights. Call soon to schedule a free consultation.