If you’ve ever had a bad boss or worked for a bad company you’ve probably wondered about your rights as an employee. California is an at-will employment state. This means that employers can discipline or fire employees at will: without providing a reason to the employee. This doesn’t mean you have no rights, and if you believe your rights may have been violated it is important you consult with a Pasadena wrongful termination lawyer. The experienced attorneys with our firm can assist in advocating on your behalf and ensuring that your side of the story is heard.
Terminated Employee Statistics
- Hundreds of thousands of Californians lose their jobs each month
- Thousands of these workers are terminated under questionable circumstances
- The National Labor Relations Board receives tens of thousands of complaints each year
California Wrongful Termination Law
California has laws and public policies that create exceptions to “at-will” employment and create rights for employees. Generally, you can’t be fired for a bad reason (e.g., discrimination, which is against public policy) or in a way that violates your right to be free from personal injury (e.g., being defamed or defrauded).
Exceptions to “at-will” employment create rights for employees that allow them to sue for wrongful termination. Some of the exceptions to at-will employment in California include:
- Breaches of existing employment contracts – when you have a contract with your employer, that agreement will often detail the specific terms of your employment;
- Retaliatory discharge – when an employer terminates an employee for doing things like investigating or reporting wrongdoing or pursuing a whistleblower claim or a qui tam request (cooperating with a government official);
- Sexual harassment – unwanted sexual advances; offering benefits in exchange for sexual favors; making or threatening reprisals after a negative response to sexual advances; visual conduct like leering, making sexual gestures, displaying of sexually suggestive objects or pictures, cartoons or posters; verbal conduct like making or using derogatory comments, epithets, slurs and jokes; verbal sexual advances or propositions; verbal abuse of a sexual nature; graphic verbal commentaries about an individual’s body; sexually degrading words used to describe an individual; suggestive or obscene letters, notes or invitations; harassment based on a person’s gender such as targeting a person for offensive or hostile treatment because she is a woman; physical conduct, such as touching, assault, impeding or blocking movements;
- Fraud or misrepresentation – when an employer makes promises to an employee and these promises are not kept, such as misrepresentations over salary, commissions, bonuses or authorities);
- Firing after inducement – being terminated after being induced with promises;
- Implied contracts – often arising from an employee handbook that has specific rules on how terminations take place or says employees will only be fired for good cause – these written statements may create a type of contract;
- Discrimination – termination based on race, ancestry; national origin; color; sex; sexual orientation; religion; disability including HIV/AIDS diagnosis; marital status; age – 40 and over; medical condition – cancer, pregnancy and genetic characteristics; refusal of Family Care Leave; health condition; denial of Pregnancy Disability Leave; retaliation for reporting patient abuse in tax supported institutions; political affiliation; refusing to sign unlawful agreements (non-compete clause); requesting a recognized accommodation (a blind person asking for a document to be read to them).
In California, you don’t have to be fired to file a wrongful termination suit. If your work conditions become unbearable because of one of the reasons discussed above, the courts allow for a “constructive wrongful termination.”The wrongful termination lawyers at The Law Offices of Scott Glovsky are strong advocates for victims of age discrimination, sexual harassment and wrongful termination. Depending on the type of case you pursue, you may be required to file a claim with a California agency that regulates employment like the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) or Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). Contact us immediately to discuss your situation.
Damages Recoverable In Wrongful Termination Case
Wrongfully losing your job can have devastating consequences. The Pasadena wrongful termination lawyers at our firm can help you recover a variety of damages including: lost earnings (including benefits); damages for emotional distress; damages for losses caused by a downgrading of the employee’s credit rating; reimbursement of attorneys fees and costs if the employee’s claims are based upon a violation of the Fair Employment and Housing Act (i.e., employment discrimination) or the California Labor Code (i.e., wage & hour violations); punitive damages in cases also involving employment discrimination. Damages available to you are based on the circumstances of your case. Available damages will be based on the specifics of your case and the law violated by your employer.
Importance of Consulting With a Pasadena Wrongful Termination Lawyer
There are a number of statutes that apply to a wrongful termination. You should contact an employment law attorney to determine which statutes apply to your case. Cases involving discrimination, harassment, and retaliation claims in violation of California Fair Employment and Housing Act (“FEHA”) often require that a person file a claim with the Department of Fair Employment and Housing (“DFEH”) within one year of the unlawful incident or shorter periods. Such claims that are in violation of the federal Americans with Disabilities act on the other hand must be brought to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”) within 180 days of the wrongful action or shorter periods. The deadline to bring a claim to the EEOC is not firm and can change depending on whether or not a claimant also raises a claim with a local enforcement authority such as the DFEH. Claims that are brought under California common law for wrongful termination are often subject to a 2-year deadline beginning from the date of the wrongful termination. If you have a discrimination, harassment or retaliation claim then it is important to have it evaluated by an employment attorney immediately so they can assess which of these deadlines apply.
There are many other employment claims that are also subject to their own statutes of limitation. For example, claims based on defamation have a one year statute of limitations from the date of the most recent publication of the defamatory statement. This deadline can be extended depending upon certain circumstances such as a delay in discovery of the publication. Wage and hour claims are often subject to a 4-year statute of limitations if based on a written contract, 2 years if based on an oral contract or 3 years if based on statute. Retaliation claims can arise out of many different types of statutes and laws such as the California Health and Safety Code, Patient Care Act, FEHA, Civil Rights Act, and Employee Retirement Income Security Act (“ERISA”). Many of these different statutes carry their own claim deadlines ranging from one to four years.
We are skilled Pasadena wrongful termination lawyers committed to helping our clients obtain the compensation, benefits and justice they deserve. You should always contact an experienced wrongful termination lawyer to understand your rights based on the unique circumstances of your case. For a free consultation, call us at 626-243-5598 or send us an inquiry form by completing the free consultation form.