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How Can a Los Angeles Wrongful Termination Lawyer Help?

Termination of employment Los Angeles wrongful termination lawyer.

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 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 illegal reasons. When they do a claim for wrongful termination is often the result.

At-Will Employment Is Not As Broad As Your Employer Thinks

While at-will employment is intended to make it easier for employers to terminate employees, it is not an absolute shield against potential liability for wrongful termination. Both California and federal law recognize that an employer’s freedom concerning hiring and firing must be balanced against an employee’s right to fair and equitable employment. To this end, there are several well-recognized exceptions to at-will employment.

These exceptions fall into the broad categories described above, but more specifically, employees can pursue wrongful termination claims in the following situations: 

  • You were terminated for discriminatory reasons. 
  • You were terminated as a result of requesting a reasonable accommodation. 
  • You were terminated as a result of requesting or using FMLA or CFRA leave. 
  • You were terminated in retaliation for reporting illegal working conditions or wage practices. 
  • You were terminated in breach of your written employment contract or an implied contract. 
  • You were terminated for exercising your constitutional rights. 

Most, if not all, employers recognize that there are limits to at-will employment. It is rare for an employer to claim that terminating an employee under the same or similar circumstances was permissible under at-will employment. Rather than admit any wrongdoing, they will likely offer some pretextual reason for your termination. 

Employees who have been unfairly fired need a Los Angeles wrongful termination attorney to overcome whatever baseless pretext is offered by their employer. They can help you prove your case so that you can get the compensation you deserve and move on to better opportunities.  

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.

What Are Grounds for Wrongful Termination?

As mentioned above, California is an “at-will” employment state. This means that an employer can terminate an employee at any time and for any reason, or even for no reason at all. However, this rule is not without exception. Even with at-will employment, employers can illegally terminate employees and expose themselves to a wrongful termination lawsuit. 

In short, employees can pursue a wrongful termination claim if their employers fired them in violation of state or federal law. There are several, well-recognized exceptions to at-will employment in California. 

Breach of Contract 

Many employees sign a contract when they start their jobs. These contracts may include provisions guaranteeing that they will be employed for a specific period of time or that they can only be terminated “for cause.” In other words, “at-will” employment does not override the provisions of an employment contract. Employees who are terminated in breach of their employment contracts can pursue wrongful termination claims against their employers.

As an aside, California does recognize verbal or implied contracts. In other words, an employer’s verbal statements can create a binding contract that gives rise to a wrongful termination claim. 

Discrimination Explained by a Los Angeles Wrongful Termination

State and federal law protects employees from discrimination based on their race, age, gender (including gender expression and gender orientation), disability or medical condition, sexual orientation, religion, pregnancy, marital status, or military or veteran status. Both state and federal law prohibit employers from terminating employees for discriminatory reasons, and those employees may be able to file a wrongful termination lawsuit against their employers. 

Retaliation

It is also against the law for employers to fire employees for exercising specific employment rights. As a result, you may be able to pursue a wrongful termination claim if you were fired as a result of filing a workers’ compensation claim, filing a wage or hour claim, taking time off for jury duty, requesting medical or family leave, or filing a complaint alleging discrimination or harassment. 

Public Policy

It is also against the law to terminate an employee if it would violate public policy. These claims often look very similar to retaliation claims, in that the termination is often retaliatory. However, public policy claims do not necessarily involve the exercise of specific rights. Instead, they recognize that public policy should not allow employers to terminate employees for things such as exercising their general legal rights, refusing to engage in illegal activity or whistleblowing.

A Los Angeles Wrong Termination Lawyer Explains 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 circumstances. When you hire one of our  attorneys 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 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:

  • Emails;
  • 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, our Los Angeles wrongful termination attorneys may be able to use circumstantial evidence to establish your claim. 

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.

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 attorney 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. 
  • Emotional Distress: Wrongful termination can cause you to suffer emotional distress such as depression, anxiety, and mental anguish. 
  • 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. 

Do You Have Questions? Our Los Angeles Wrongful Termination Lawyers Can Help You Get Answers

If you have been wrongfully terminated, you may feel completely overwhelmed. You may not even know what questions to ask. With years of experience in handling wrongful termination claims, our attorneys can provide you with the information you need to find a way forward. 

How Much Is a Wrongful Termination Lawsuit Worth in California?

Of course, the value of your case will vary according to several factors. Some estimate that wrongful termination claims in California will typically settle for anywhere between $5,000 and $100,000. That said, many wrongful termination verdicts in California exceed $1 million. 

Depending on the facts and circumstances surrounding your case, your wrongful termination claim may consist of the following components: 

  • Your future lost wages;
  • Your withheld wages;
  • Your lost benefits;
  • Job search expenses;
  • Emotional distress;
  • Punitive damages;
  • Damage to your reputation;
  • Attorney’s fees and costs;

The value of your case will be the total of each of these components. Our experienced wrongful termination lawyers can review your case and provide an estimate of what your case may be worth. 

Can You Sue for Wrongful Termination in California?

Yes, you can file a lawsuit in California if you were wrongfully terminated. Before you file suit, however, you need to remember that you will need to prove your case. No matter how certain you are or how obvious it may seem that you were terminated, you will need to be able to introduce evidence supporting your claim that you were fired in violation of the law.  

How Do I Fight Wrongful Termination in California?

Hundreds, if not thousands, of employees are wrongfully terminated across California every year. Despite increasing awareness and stricter laws, employers continue to illegally terminate employees every day. And tragically, most employees do not understand their rights or what they can do about it. 

Let a Qualified Los Angeles Wrongful Termination Lawyer Review Your Contract

One of the ways that employers get around the breach of contract exception is to offer employment contracts that expressly state that the employee can be terminated at any time and without cause. If you have been offered a job with a contract, you, therefore, need to watch out for language that states your employment is “at-will.” You may want to explore the possibility of negotiating a contract that allows you to be terminated only for cause. 

Document Your Case

If you see your termination fast approaching or were just let go, the most important thing you can do is document your termination. To the extent possible, you want to gather the following information that could be evidence in support of a wrongful termination claim: 

  • The date and time that you were terminated
  • Any written notice that you were given concerning your termination
  • Copies of your pay stubs and any other records concerning your compensation and benefits
  • Copies of any email, text messages, or other correspondence related to your termination
  • Copies of your performance reviews
  • A copy of your employee handbook
  • A copy of your employment contract and any other documents concerning your job such as a description of your job duties
  • A list of other employees who may have information that would support your case

You also should keep detailed notes surrounding your termination, including the following: 

  • Notes concerning whatever was verbally communicated to you concerning your termination or at any other pertinent times
  • Notes concerning any incidents or events that you believe were related to your termination
  • Notes concerning any statements made by your co-workers concerning your termination

Gathering all of this information can seem overwhelming, especially when you have been fired. An employment attorney can help you gather the information you need so that you can focus on getting back on your feet. 

How Long Does a Wrongful Termination Lawsuit Take in California?

Several different factors will affect how long it will take to resolve your wrongful termination lawsuit. These factors can include the following: 

  • How willing your employer is to face the expenses of litigation and the potential harm to their reputation
  • How strong the evidence is supporting your case
  • How egregious your employer’s actions were in terminating you
  • Whether your case involves any unique legal issues
  • The facts and circumstances surrounding your termination

It is also necessary to understand how your lawsuit can be resolved. There are three main options: 

  1. Your case is settled out of court.
  2. Your case goes to trial, and the jury rules in your favor. 
  3. You appeal the verdict and win on appeal.

Many cases can be settled without even filing a lawsuit. This may require some willingness to compromise on your part. Your Los Angeles wrongful termination lawyer can guide what would be a fair settlement and when you should go to court. 

What To Expect When You Contact a Los Angeles Wrongful Termination Law Firm

When you contact a Los Angeles wrongful termination lawyer about your claim, there are several steps your attorney 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 attorney 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 Los Angeles wrongful termination lawyer, they 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 attorney 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 attorney will need to determine which laws apply to your 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 circumstances.
  • Deciding Where to File Your Wrongful Termination Claim – Based on the laws that apply, your attorney 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 attorney initiates your claim, they 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 Los Angeles wrongful termination 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 attorney 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

If you have been illegally fired, the best thing you can do to fight your wrongful termination is to talk with an employment attorney who has experience in handling wrongful termination cases. As discussed above, they can help you gather the evidence you need to build the strongest possible case. They can also evaluate your case, explain your options, and guide you through the process of holding your employer accountable. In short, your Los Angeles wrongful termination lawyer can help you find the way forward to better opportunities and put this experience behind you. 

Being wrongfully terminated causes undue mental and financial stress. Contact our firm today by filling out our intake form. Our Los Angeles wrongful termination attorneys look forward to providing you with the unparalleled representation you deserve.