Wrongful Termination in Los Angeles, CA
Losing your job, under any set of circumstances, can cause mental stress and financial hardship. Wrongfully losing your job through no fault of your own can cause additional feelings of betrayal and deception. An experienced Los Angeles Wrongful Termination Lawyer at Attorneys for Employees (AFE) understands the challenges you are facing. With a practice that focuses on helping employees, we can provide a case review and help you understand your options.
At-Will Employment in Los Angeles According to A Los Angeles Wrongful Termination Lawyer
According to California Labor Code 2922, California is an “at-will employment” state, which means the employer or the employee may end the working relationship at any time. However, being an at-will state does not give employers the right to terminate employees for reasons that are illegal. When they do a claim for wrongful termination is often the result.
Examples of Wrongful Termination
Listed below are examples of some of the most common types of wrongful terminations.
- You were terminated for whistleblowing, which is reporting your company’s activities that you reasonably believed to be illegal.
- Your company terminated you as part of discriminatory conduct based on your sex, race, religion, age, disability, or other protected class status.
- Your company terminated you after reporting unlawful discrimination, such as sexual, racial, disability, age, or marital status.
- You were fired due to reporting unsafe work conditions or unpaid wages.
- You were terminated for violation of an implied contract, such as any verbal agreement or an agreement reached through a party’s conduct or behavior.
This list is far from all-inclusive, so if you believe you have been the victim of wrongful termination for any reason, contact our firm today to learn how we can help you.
How Do You Prove Wrongful Termination?
As a wrongfully terminated employee, it is up to you to prove your legal rights. So, how do you prove wrongful termination? The answer to this question depends on your individual circumstances. When you hire a Los Angeles wrongful termination lawyer to represent you, your lawyer will determine what evidence is available. This may include evidence of:
1. Illegal Termination (i.e., Discriminatory Termination)
In some cases, the evidence will clearly point toward illegal termination. Despite their efforts to avoid doing so, employers will often create a paper trail that terminated employees can use to prove that they are victims of discrimination, retaliation, or termination on other unlawful grounds. This includes evidence such as:
- Employment records that show different treatment of other employees;
- Internal memos;
- Positive performance reviews; and
- Text messages.
In addition to these forms of documentary evidence, a Los Angeles wrongful termination lawyer may be able to use circumstantial evidence to establish your claim. For example, if you are the only ethnic minority in your workplace and the only person to get fired, your termination may be wrongful. Your employer may try to present evidence showing you were terminated due to poor job performance. Depending on the nature of the evidence presented by your employer, circumstantial evidence may be sufficient to demonstrate that your firing was illegal and that your employer’s excuse for firing you is merely a pretext for engaging in racial discrimination.
2. Mixed-Motive Termination
Wrongful termination cases can also involve what is known as mixed-motive termination. This is when an employee’s termination is based on both legitimate and illegitimate considerations. Assuming your employer had valid grounds to terminate your employment for cause (i.e., a serious breach of conduct in the workplace), if discrimination or retaliation was a substantial motivating factor in your employer’s decision to fire you, you may possess a valid wrongful termination claim under California or federal law.
Proving a mixed-motive termination typically requires the same types of evidence discussed above. Generally speaking, the more evidence you have, the better. With that said, terminated employees need to be very careful about accessing their employers’ records, and, as a result, we strongly recommend that you speak with a Los Angeles wrongful termination lawyer before you do anything that could lead to problems.
3. Constructive Discharge
The third common type of wrongful termination case involves what is known as a constructive discharge. A constructive discharge occurs when an employer creates or fosters working conditions that are so intolerable that an employee has no realistic option but to resign. Employers will often try to get unwanted employees to quit, assuming that this protects them against liability for wrongful termination. But, this is not the case, and an experienced Los Angeles wrongful termination lawyer may be able to use various forms of evidence to establish your right to compensation.
Damages in a Wrongful Termination Employment Law Case
If you have been the victim of wrongful termination, you may be eligible to recover the following:
- Lost Wages: Lost wages are income you would have earned had you not been wrongfully terminated. If you obtain different employment after your termination, any wages earned at that job may be used to offset the lost wages you can recover. Lost wages also include loss of employee benefits, such as bonuses and contributions.
- Emotional Distress: Wrongful termination can cause you to suffer emotional distress such as depression, anxiety, and mental anguish. These types of emotional distress often manifest with physical symptoms such as vomiting, insomnia, and weight loss. California law does not mandate that the distress be permanent and seeks to allow victims to recover from past and future pain and suffering.
- Punitive Damages: Punitive damages are damages awarded to punish the wrongdoer for outrageous behavior as well as encourage others not to follow in their footsteps. Punitive damages are seldom awarded in wrongful termination cases as the burden of proof is extremely high.
What To Expect When You Contact a Los Angeles Wrongful Termination Lawyer
When you contact a lawyer in Los Angeles about your wrongful termination claim, there are several steps your lawyer will take to assess your legal rights—and assert your legal rights if warranted. Here is an overview of the major steps in the process:
- Determining if You Are (or Were) an “At Will” Employee – One of the first steps your lawyer will take is to determine if you are (or were) an “at-will” employee. This is the first step toward determining what options you have available.
- Gathering As Much Information as Possible – When you meet with your lawyer, your lawyer will gather as much information from you as possible. You should be prepared to discuss your termination openly, and you should bring any documents or files that you believe may be relevant to your claim.
- Assessing Your Rights Under California and Federal Law – Based on the evidence you provide, your lawyer will assess your rights under California’s Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) and federal law. Several laws protect employees against wrongful termination, and your lawyer will need to determine which laws apply to your individual situation.
- Assessing the Value of Your Wrongful Termination Claim – Along with assessing how to file your wrongful termination claim, your lawyer will also assess how much he or she can seek on your behalf. Wrongful termination often entitles former employees to substantial damages, but the amount you can recover will depend on your individual circumstances.
- Deciding Where to File Your Wrongful Termination Claim – Based on the laws that apply, your lawyer will decide whether to file your claim with the California Civil Rights Department (CRD) or the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). Filing with the DFEH or EEOC is required before filing a lawsuit in court in most cases.
- Obtaining Evidence from Your Employer – Once your lawyer initiates your claim, your lawyer will be able to seek additional evidence from your employer. This is often a key step in the process, and it will spur settlement negotiations in many cases.
- Pursuing a Wrongful Termination Settlement – If you have a wrongful termination claim, pursuing a settlement may be the best option for resolving your claim as quickly as possible. If settling makes sense, your lawyer will negotiate on your behalf, advise you regarding any settlement opportunities, and explain exactly how much you will take home if you accept an offer.
- Going to a Hearing (or Trial) if Necessary – Finally, if necessary, your lawyer will take your wrongful termination claim to a hearing (or trial). This is a lengthy process, and if your dispute gets to this stage, you will need an experienced lawyer who is prepared to fight for the financial compensation you deserve.
Regardless of the facts of your case, you only have a limited amount of time to assert your legal rights. This is true whether you have a claim under California or federal law. As a result, if you believe that you have been wrongfully terminated, we strongly encourage you to contact us right away.
Contact An Experienced Los Angeles Wrongful Termination Lawyer To Learn More
Being wrongfully terminated causes undue mental and financial stress. Contact our firm today by filling out our intake form. We look forward to providing you with the unparalleled representation you deserve.