If you were fired and believe it was unfair, you can sue your employer by filing a lawsuit within a certain time period. This time period in which you can file a lawsuit is known as the statute of limitations.
It is important to note that the California wrongful termination statute of limitations varies depending on the type of lawsuit that is being filed. Seeking the advice of a qualified California employment attorney can help you understand your options and the steps you can take to pursue legal action.
Some federal wrongful termination laws have longer statutes of limitations. A vast majority of these cases must first file an administrative complaint with the appropriate federal or state agency before an employee can bring a lawsuit against their employer.
What are the Different Statutes of Limitations for Wrongful Termination in California?
There are different types of wrongful termination cases in California, each with its own statute of limitations. For a wrongful termination claim in California, the specific statute of limitations will depend upon why the firing was unlawful.
The most common type of wrongful termination cases in California are:
- a breach of an implied contract,
- a violation of public policy,
- employer retaliation towards an employee for exercising their legal rights under California’s FEHA (Fair Employment and Housing Act)
- a violation of state or federal law protecting retaliation against whistleblowers
Depending upon the type of wrongful termination case, the statute of limitations can range from 2 years to 4 years. To get a more accurate understanding of the statute of limitations for your specific case, you should consult with an experienced employment attorney in California.
Breach of Implied Contract
An implied contract is an unwritten agreement between an employer and employee that is based on the actions or behavior of the parties.
In California, if an employee is fired in violation of an implied contract, they have 2 years from the date of their termination to file a wrongful termination lawsuit against their employer.
Since most California employees have a contract, these types of wrongful termination cases are quite uncommon.
Violation of Public Policy
A public policy violation is when an employee is fired for exercising a legal right or for refusing to do something that is illegal. An employee can sue for wrongful termination if they are terminated due to:
- refusing to break the law,
- performing a legal obligation,
- exercising a legal privilege or right, or
- reporting a potential violation of the law.
In California, if an employee is wrongfully terminated in violation of public policy, they have 2 years from the date of their termination to file a lawsuit against their employer.
California’s Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) prohibits employers from retaliating against employees who engage in certain protected activities. Some of these activities include:
- filing a discrimination or harassment complaint,
- refusing to participate in discriminatory practices, or
- cooperating with an investigation into discriminatory practices.
If an employee is wrongfully terminated in retaliation for engaging in a protected activity, they have 3 years from the date of their termination to file an administrative complaint with the Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH). Once the DFEH has completed its investigation, the employee will then have 1 year to file a wrongful termination lawsuit against their employer.
Employer Retaliation Against a Whistleblower
There are state and federal laws that protect employees from being retaliated against for reporting certain types of illegal activity. These laws are known as “whistleblower” laws.
In California, if an employee is wrongfully terminated in retaliation for blowing the whistle on their employer, they have 3 years from the date of their termination to file a wrongful termination lawsuit against their employer.
On a federal level, whistleblowers are protected under the Sarbanes-Oxley Act. Employees who have been wrongfully terminated in retaliation for reporting potential violations of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act have 180 days to file an administrative complaint.
After this, the Department of Labor will investigate the complaint (within 180 days) and, if they find merit to the claim, will file a lawsuit on behalf of the employee. If they do not, the employee can file a lawsuit against their employer within 4 years of the date of the termination.
Related Read: How to File a Wrongful Termination Lawsuit in California
Will I have to File an Administrative Complaint Before I Can File a Lawsuit?
It depends. In some cases, an employee may be required to file an administrative complaint before they can file a lawsuit. However, this is not always the case.
This process exists to give the relevant administrative agency an opportunity to investigate the claim and, if they find merit to it, take enforcement action against the employer.
In many cases, an employee will not have to file an administrative complaint before filing a lawsuit. However, there are some exceptions. For example, in cases of discrimination or retaliation, an employee may be required to file a complaint with the Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) before they can file a lawsuit.
Protect Your Rights – Contact an Experienced Wrongful Termination Attorney Today
If you believe you have been wrongfully terminated, it is important to contact an experienced California wrongful termination lawyer as soon as possible. An attorney will be able to advise you of the deadlines that apply to your case and help you navigate the complex legal process.
The experienced wrongful termination attorneys at Eldessouky Law are here to help. We have a proven track record of success in these cases and will fight to get you the justice and compensation you deserve.
We understand that it is difficult to go through the process of filing a wrongful termination claim in California. Our law firm has the experience necessary to help you build a strong case and get the compensation you deserve. We have the experience, knowledge and resources to aggressively and effectively resolve your case.
In addition, we are also experienced trial attorneys. This means that if your case goes to court, we will be ready to fight for you and get you the justice you deserve.
We handle cases on a contingency basis, which means you don’t have to pay any upfront fees. We only get paid if we recover compensation for you.
There is no charge for the initial consultation, and you are under no obligation. You can contact our office by either calling 714-409-8991 or by filling out one of our online contact forms.