An employment relationship ends wrongfully by an employer when it violates the legal rights of a discharged employee. Both California law and federal law address wrongful termination. However, most California workers in California are at will employees.
In this case, an employer can terminate an employee without any reason for justifying it. Firing an employee is perfectly legal, so long as the termination wasn’t for an unlawful reason.
Some Examples of Wrongful Termination
Sometimes, one person’s role absorbs another person’s job. Otherwise, the organization needs to dissolve a position to cut costs. Those are perfectly legal reasons for terminating a person’s employment.
There are other cases when termination is wrongful. Here are a few common examples of wrongful or retaliatory termination:
- Sexual harassment
- Seeking workers’ compensation benefits
- Being a whistleblower
- Violations of the Family Medical Leave Act
- Breach of contract
- Racial or ethnic discrimination
- Alleged violations of wage and hour laws
Proving Wrongful Termination
An employee who alleges wrongful termination must show that the purported basis for his or her termination was false. In that effort, he or she has to gather as much evidence as possible. If the claim is for breach of contract, a copy of any written contract must be produced. Here are some other pertinent documents:
- The employee’s personnel file
- Any employee handbook
- Copies of any written company policies
- Letters, emails or memos that are relevant to the employee’s job performance
- Copies of any performance evaluations
- Pay records
- A written termination notice if one was given
Damages in California Wrongful Termination Cases
If a wrongfully terminated employee prevails on the liability issue of the case, he or she still needs to overcome the damages issue. Different types of damages might apply to different types of California wrongful termination cases. Of course, lost earnings and benefits are the primary damages.
Medical bills might also become an issue if the employee lost his or her health insurance benefits. Depending on the basis of your wrongful termination claim, other damages might include your emotional distress and even legal fees. In few cases, punitive damages go to the employee if the former employer acted with a conscious and reckless disregard of the law. However, there are also punitive damages caps, depending on the number of employees that the employer had at the time of termination.
Our law firm represents wrongfully terminated employees throughout Thousand Oaks, Ventura County and Los Angeles County in all industries and at all levels. If you believe that you were wrongfully terminated, speak to an employment lawyer. You can contact us at Thousand Oaks at Quirk Accident & Injury Attorneys, APC for a free consultation. Some of the deadlines for bringing a wrongful termination lawsuit are quite short, so contact us at your earliest possible convenience.