The Los Angeles wrongful termination lawyers at Eldessouky Law work hard to help wrongfully terminated employees get the justice they deserve. We are here to provide guidance, advice, and representation to our clients who were wrongfully fired from their job.
You shouldn’t put up with being treated unfairly or wrongfully terminated from your job, and neither do we. California is an “at-will” state, meaning that employers have the right to fire employees for any reason at all – or no reason at all.
However, they are not allowed to fire you due to your race, gender, age, religion, disability, or because of any other protected class under the law or if you have engaged in protected activity. When an employer wrongfully terminates an employee based on any of these factors, they are breaking the law and can be held accountable.
Our law firm is dedicated to helping wrongfully terminated employees like you get the justice they deserve. We know how difficult it can be to deal with wrongful termination, especially when you feel like you have no voice or power in the process.
Our Los Angeles employment attorneys can help you navigate the confusing legal process and make sure your rights are protected. You have questions, and we are here to answer them and provide guidance every step of the way.
If you or someone you know has been wrongfully terminated from your job, don’t hesitate to contact us at 714-409-8991 for a free consultation with one of our dedicated lawyers. We are ready to fight for you and make sure justice is served.
What is wrongful termination?
Wrongful termination is the act of firing an employee from their job in violation of either state or federal laws. It can occur for a variety of reasons, including discrimination based on race, gender, age, religion, disability, or another protected class under the law.
There are other reasons why an employee might be wrongfully terminated, such as employer retaliation after filing a complaint of harassment or discrimination, or being fired for refusing to break the law.
Wrongful Termination Laws in California
Under California law, most employees are considered at-will. This means that employers can terminate workers for any reason or no reason at all – except if they were fired due to discrimination or employer retaliation.
When an at-will employee is fired under illegal circumstances, they may be able to file a wrongful termination lawsuit against their employer.
Some unlawful reasons for firing or layoffs include, but are not limited to:
- discrimination or harassment under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964;
- retaliation under the False Claims Act;
- and a variety of additional behaviors governed by federal, state, and/or local laws.
- “Blowing the whistle” on illegal activities or business practices
As an example, California’s Fair Employment and Housing Act make it illegal to fire or lay off workers based on their sexual orientation.
What Qualifies as Wrongful Termination in Los Angeles?
Before taking a deeper dive, it is critical to note that not all job lay-offs, even if unfair, qualify as wrongful termination under California law. Proving wrongful termination in California is usually a bit trickier than in other states because, without an official employment contract, the work arrangement is usually deemed “at-will.” In essence, this means that the employer can lay off the employee at any time and on any grounds so long as the employment termination process is not illegal, e.g., discrimination or retaliation.
That being said, below are some key reasons an employer can successfully file a lawsuit against their employer and claim compensation on the grounds of wrongful termination:
Wrongful Termination Based on Breach of Contract
If you are not an at-will employee, the chances are that your employment contract states that you can only be terminated under specific conditions, i.e., for a good cause. These may include getting the job under false pretense, failing to follow reasonable workplace rules, job dishonesty, acts of insubordination, conduct toward colleagues that interfere with the employer’s business, and more.
If you work under an employment agreement and get fired for reasons other than those classified as “for a good cause,” that may be presumed as a breach of contract. Likewise, it would be unlawful for your employer to state that your termination is supported under the employment agreement when, in reality, it is a ploy for some other unrelated reason.
The best part is that the agreement does not have to be written to be binding in the labor court. Even if you had an oral promise or reassurance of continued employment and your employer went against it, the court would still regard it as a breach of contract.
If you have an implied contract for employment and your employer fires you unlawfully, you may also be eligible to file for wrongful termination. In case you’re wondering, an implied contract is one in which the employer has a written policy documenting that an employee can only get fired “for a good cause.”
Wrongful Termination Based on Retaliation
California Labor Code section 1102.5 prohibits employers from retaliating against employees. Certain acts such as filing a claim against harassment, disclosing a violation of the law, refusing to engage in illegal workplace activity, filing workers’ compensation claim, etc., can cause the employer to fire you. That is known as retaliation, and it qualifies as wrongful termination. Let us expound on different types of retaliation.
Retaliation for Complaints of Sexual Harassment
Sexual harassment is prohibited discrimination that cannot be tolerated in the workplace under any circumstance. As such, it is unlawful for your employer to fire you for raising the alarm or reporting a sexual harassment incident (directed at you or your colleague), participating as a witness, or aiding in the investigation.
Retaliation for Taking Family or Medical Leave
Your employer has no legal authority to fire you for requesting or taking a family or medical leave. California law forbids employers from retaliating against employees who take accrued sick leaves to diagnose, care for, or treat an existing medical condition. This also applies if the employee takes leave to provide preventative care for their family members or themselves.
In particular, if you request to take a paid sick leave and get fired within 30 days of making such an inquiry, that is deemed wrongful termination. You can file a lawsuit for compensation, and your employer has to prove that your termination was due to some reason other than that for requesting a sick paid leave.
What’s more, your employer cannot fire you illegally if they subscribe to the California Family Rights Act or the Federal Medical Leave Act (FMLA). If your employer fires you while on an FMLA leave or within 90 days of returning to work, the labor court will presume that as wrongful termination, and it is upon your boss to prove that you were discharged for a different reason.
Retaliation for Whistleblowing
Whistleblowing or reporting a hostile work environment can and should not put you at any risk of getting laid off. Likewise, your employer may not terminate your contract if you raise alarms over violations of local, statutory, or federal rules and regulations. That is well documented in this California Labor Code.
Retaliation for Complaining About Wage and Hour Laws
Your Los Angeles employers may not terminate your employment contract or retaliate against you for the following:
- Reporting or complaining about unpaid salaries, overtime, or meal, as well as rest break violations.
- Filing a claim with the Industrial Relations Department due to unpaid wages or exercising any rights protected under the California Labor Rights.
Wrongful Termination Based on Discrimination
Just like retaliation, wrongful termination based on discrimination can take several shapes, and California law empowers employees to seek compensation through litigation should they fall victim to unlawful lay-off.
Pregnancy-related termination is illegal in California, and your employer has no authority to fire you due to any of the following reasons:
- You are pregnant
- You are planning to get pregnant
- You are nursing pregnancy-related health complications or issues of birth-giving
If you need workplace accommodations connected to your pregnancy, including leave, and your request gets denied, or you are fired as a result, the courts would deem that illegal pregnancy discrimination. That is well documented under the California Fair Employment and Housing Act and the Pregnancy Discrimination Act.
Besides pregnancy, your employer may also discriminate against you based on:
- Age (if you are at least 40 years)
- Religion (including dressing or grooming preferences)
- National origin including language restrictions)
- Genetic information
- Disability (mental or physical)
- Sexual orientation
- Marital status
- Political affiliations
- Medical status
- Citizenship status
- Military or veteran status
Wrongful Violation Based on Public Policy Violation
Public policy dictates that an employee cannot get laid off for exercising their legal rights, complaining about a hostile work environment, or refusing to commit a legal act. If an employer terminates your employment contract under these circumstances, the act might be considered against public policy hence unlawful. This entitles you to seek compensation for the damages incurred.
How Much is a Wrongful Termination Lawsuit Worth in Los Angeles?
An average wrongful termination claim in Los Angeles can be settled for as little as $10,000 while more complex cases can lead to verdicts in the millions of dollars. Since every wrongful termination case is unique, with different circumstances, lost wages, and emotional distress, each claim needs to be evaluated separately.
There are many factors the courts will assess to determine how much a wrongful termination case is worth.
Most of the time, workers can seek compensation (also known as financial damages) for the following kinds of harm if they have strong grounds to file a wrongful termination claim:
- Anxiety and other emotional trauma resulting from the termination
- Attorney’s fees and legal costs
- Loss of benefits
- Lost wages – both past and future
- Punitive damages – only if an employer has engaged in fraud or is guilty of malice
Additionally, workers are entitled to any wages they are owed at the time of termination. If your employer has withheld any of your wages, this action is unlawful per Cal. Labor Code § 201. Similarly, Cal. Labor Code § 227.3 and Cal. Labor Code § 201 entitle workers to compensation for any accrued and unused paid time offer and earned commissions. Therefore, if your employer has withheld any of these forms of compensation, your wrongful termination claim can address this wrongdoing as well. Cal. Labor Code § 203 even allows a worker who has been denied any of these forms of compensation to collect “waiting time penalties” in an amount equal to their ordinary daily pay rate multiplied (up to 30) days that the worker was denied their rightful pay.
However, to better understand the potential value of your case, you should speak with a California wrongful termination lawyer who can help you understand the process and what to expect.
What Steps Should You Take?
If you believe you have been wrongfully terminated, there are specific steps you should take to preserve your rights. Here is a quick guideline:
Contact a Qualified Employment Lawyer
One thing to note is that you have minimal time to consider all the options available and pursue them after your wrongful termination. Getting in touch with an experienced attorney can come in handy in exploring all the options with a professional touch and meeting all the deadlines required to file illegal termination.
There is no better means of proving wrongful termination in court than documenting every process leading to your firing. For example, you can note down the date and time that such incidences as sexual harassment occurred in your journal. You can also take photos and videos of unlawful occurrences. Other documents that may be helpful to your case include termination notice, personal file, performance review, employment contract, union contract, etc.
Keep off of Social Media
Refrain from posting anything relating to your firing, discriminatory treatment, or layoff on any of your social media accounts. We usually advise our clients even to take down their social media profiles until the case is settled. That is because the defense counsel will try scouring your accounts to find anything that can favor their argument.
Can I Sue my Employer for Wrongful Termination in Los Angeles?
Yes, you can sue your employer for wrongful termination if the firing or layoff is illegal. Employees in California have the right to sue their employer for wrongful termination – but they must do so within a certain timeframe or risk losing their legal rights.
If you believe you should be able to file a lawsuit against your employer, it’s best to speak with an experienced Los Angeles employment attorney as soon as possible about your case. They can help determine if you have a viable claim and what your next steps should be.
How Long Do You Have to Sue for Wrongful Termination in California?
If you have been wrongfully terminated, you must file a complaint with the California Civil Rights Department (CRD), previously called the Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH), within three (3) years of your termination. Once you have filed a complaint with the CRD, you will then be able to sue your employer in civil court.
Do not wait to file your complaint, as the statute of limitations for wrongful termination claims in California is strict and will prevent you from being able to sue your employer if you wait too long.
In addition, the longer you wait, the more difficult it will be to gather evidence and build a strong case against your employer.
How do You Prove Wrongful Termination in California?
To have a successful wrongful termination case against your employer, you must be able to prove that your termination was illegal.
In order to prove wrongful termination in California, you must be able to show that:
- The firing was based on illegal reasons, such as discrimination, unlawful retaliation, a violation of public policy, or a breach of contract;
- The employer’s stated reason for firing you is not truthful or was not the true reason.
An employer will not outright lie in court; however, they can sometimes be dishonest or misleading. Proving that the firing was illegal is not always an easy task.
It will often take the help of an experienced Los Angeles employment lawyer to uncover the truth and build a strong case against an employer.
Do You Need to Hire a Wrongful Termination Lawyer “Near Me”?
Not necessarily. Employment dispute cases can fall under both state and federal jurisdiction. That is why it is important to work with an employment lawyer from your area who has experience working with both state and federal laws.
If you have a wrongful termination dispute in Los Angeles, you will need an employment lawyer licensed to practice law in California.
When searching for the best wrongful termination lawyer for your case, look for someone who has a history of success with similar cases and who has the experience needed to effectively handle your particular situation. In addition, you should feel comfortable working with them and confident that they will work hard to help you get the compensation you deserve.
Hiring a local employment lawyer can provide you with a number of benefits. If you’ve been a victim of wrongful termination in Los Angeles, you need to talk to an attorney who is familiar with the local laws and can fight for your legal rights.
Eldessouky Law has litigated several cases all throughout Los Angeles county and is familiar with all State and Federal court local rules. Eldessouky Law also has offices located conveniently located from Stanley Mosk Courthouse which is the busiest courtroom in Los Angeles.
Contact a Los Angeles Wrongful Termination Attorney Today
If you need the help of a Los Angeles employment lawyer, contact Eldessouky Law at (714) 409-8992 to speak with a member of our team. We’ll be happy to discuss your case and explore your legal options with you.
Initial consultations are free; there are no up-front costs or fees. If we feel that you have a strong case and decide to take it on, we’ll immediately begin working towards getting you the compensation you deserve.