Have you experienced poor treatment in your place of work? Were you suddenly terminated without a valid reason directly related to your work performance and/or your ability to perform your job? If so, you might have been wrongfully terminated.
Depending on the details surrounding your termination, you may have grounds to take legal action against your employer.
More specifically, you could file a wrongful termination claim.
Steps to Take When You Have Been Wrongfully Terminated in California
Without a doubt, there may be many uncertainties that accompany being wrongfully terminated. Affected employees might find themselves suddenly worried about making ends meet after the loss of income. Affected employees might also find themselves worrying about what to after they have been terminated.
If you believe you have been unlawfully fired, here is what to do after wrongful termination in California:
Step 1. Know What It Means to Be Wrongfully Terminated
What is wrongful termination? Wrongful termination occurs when an employer fires their employees unreasonably – for reasons not related to their job or job performance whatsoever. Specifically, wrongful termination occurs when employers terminate their employees based on their personal characteristics. What are these protected personal characteristics?
Based on California state law, protected personal characteristics include the following: military and veteran status; marital status; race and color; ancestry and national origin; creed and religion; age; mental and physical disability; genetic information; medical conditions; sex and gender (including pregnancy); gender identity and expression; sexual orientation.
Step 2. Know Your Employee Rights
All employees have rights. Unfortunately, the lack of information that employees have on such rights can make them easy targets for employers with ill intentions. Some of your rights as an employee include the following:
- Working without being subject to discrimination (based on race, color, age, religion, etc.)
- Taking action in the workplace without fear of retaliation (e.g. participating in investigations or reporting safety violations)
- Taking time off work (family leave, sick leave, etc.)
- Filing complaints against the employer for a number of reasons
These employee rights are established by state and federal laws and are upheld by state and federal employment agencies.
Step 3. File a Wrongful Termination Complaint
All employment claims must be filed with the appropriate employment agency.
In California, for example, the Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) enforces the state’s employment laws and handles employee claims. On the federal level, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) does the same. These two agencies typically work together to protect the rights of employees.
What happens when you file a complaint with an employment agency? The employment agency will investigate the situation and take action against the employer if they find that the employer violated employment laws.
Step 4. File a Wrongful Termination Lawsuit against Your Former Employer
Employees have the option to file civil claims independently (that is, not through an employment agency). However, they must, first, be granted the right to sue from the employment agency (either the DFEH or the EEOC) handling their claim.
After receiving the right to sue, affected employees can take legal action against their employers with the help of an experienced employment attorney. In many cases, affected employees prefer to take civil action to better their recovery.
Related Read: How to File a Wrongful Termination Lawsuit in California
Step 5. Know What You Could Recover
Depending on the details surrounding your specific situation, you might have grounds to recover different forms of compensation. You may be eligible to recover monetary compensation for financial losses, such as the income that you lost and will likely continue to lose due to your termination.
In addition to being compensated for lost wages, you could also recover monetary compensation for lost benefits, any out-of-pocket expenses, mental/emotional distress, and punitive damages.
Other remedies could also be available. For example, wrongfully terminated employees could be reinstated, and the employer could be required to provide reasonable accommodations. The employer could also be required to offer training as well as make important policy changes. Because every claim is different, it is vital that affected employees do not make any assumptions about the potential outcome of their claims. Instead, affected employees should look to the expertise of an employment attorney.
Related Read: What’s an average wrongful termination settlement in California?
Step 6. Speak to a Wrongful Termination Lawyer
Even if you are still unsure of how you want to proceed after being unlawfully fired, you could trust our knowledgeable and experienced wrongful termination lawyers to guide you in the right direction.
If you are ready to hire an employment attorney to represent your best interests after being wrongfully terminated, do not hesitate to contact our firm today.