At Gallenberg PC, our Los Angeles, Burbank, and Beverly Hills wrongful termination attorneys know there are many ways California employers can violate both Federal and state laws that prohibit them from improperly or unlawfully firing employees.
Our firm is dedicated to representing employees who have lost their employment due to unlawful employment practices. We offer a free confidential initial telephone intake to prospective clients. We also accept cases on a contingency fee basis.Wrongful Termination California Laws
California is an “at will employment” state, which means that an employee may be discharged for any reason that is not illegal. It is important to note that while a job firing may be unjust, that doesn’t necessarily mean it is illegal. A Los Angeles wrongful termination lawyer at our firm can assist you in determining if the firing was illegal in California.
If an employee signed a contract with a California employer, that agreement will specify the conditions of the employment relationship including whether an employee is an at-will employee, the length of employment, and grounds for terminating the contract. It is important to provide an employment lawyer a copy of the employment contract to determine if there is a wrongful discharge case.
Sometimes, there is no signed contract that specifies the conditions of employment, but there are promises made to the employee regarding future work. In these types of cases, there may be an implied contract. While an implied contract is an exception to the at-will employment presumption in California, it is difficult to prove because there is no signed written agreement. However, an employee may be able to prove an implied contract for a specific duration through copies of e-mails or texts indicating promises of certain pay for a certain period and the terms of employment. Therefore, it is important that copies of these documents be provided to a wrongful termination lawyer to determine if an illegal firing took place.How Do I Prove I Was Wrongfully Terminated in California?
Some of the most common wrongful termination cases stem from an employer releasing an employee after complaining about certain workplace conditions such as discrimination or other Fair Employment and Housing Act violations, protected whistleblowing activities, public policy violations, implied contract violations by the employer, wage and hour complaints, or filing a workers’ compensation claim. In some instances, an employee is laid-off unlawfully, or is forced to quit and these circumstances still may be considered a type of wrongful termination.
Some common legal theories used by Los Angeles wrongful termination attorneys to bring a claim for wrongful termination for their clients include but are not limited to:
- Retaliation: If you have complained about your compensation (such as overtime, failure to receive breaks), sexual harassment, illegal activities at work, disability accommodations, religious accommodations, unsafe working conditions, or filed a complaint for discrimination and subsequently fired, then the termination might be a retaliatory act by the employer.
- Sexual Harassment: If you believe you were sexually harassed at work and complained about it, or were sexually harassed at work and fired, you may have a cause of action for wrongful termination. If you were forced to quit due to sexual harassment, you may have a claim for constructive discharge. Quitting a job is a very important decision and all options should be considered. If you experienced or are experiencing sexual harassment in the workplace, contact a sexual harassment attorney at our office as soon as possible to learn about your options.
- Other Harassment: If you were sexually harassed at work or harassed because of another protected status (such as race, religion, sexual orientation, disability, age etc.), and fired, you may have a claim for harassment and unlawful termination. There are several laws that protect employees from harassment, and you should consult with a harassment or wrongful termination lawyer at our office to learn about your rights.
- Gender/Sex Discrimination:: If you were subjected to gender discrimination, and subsequently fired, you may have a cause of action for wrongful termination in violation of public policy. An employment attorney at Gallenberg PC can assist you in evaluating whether you have a claim for gender discrimination and/or termination.
- Race Discrimination: If you were the victim of racial discrimination, this may explain the termination, and in such a case, give rise to a legal claim for wrongful discharge. An attorney evaluating a case for race discrimination considers the race of the supervisor vis-à-vis the employee, the race of the employee that replaced the fired employee, as well as general racial composition of the workforce of the employer to determine if the race discrimination claim has merit.
- Age Discrimination: If you were fired because of your age (over 40), you may have been the subject of wrongful termination. While an employer does not need to provide an employee a reason for the termination in an at-will employment relationship, discrimination based on age or termination based on age discrimination can be determined by a lawyer by looking at the age of the employee that replaced the fired employee as well as looking at the employee population as a whole and investigating whether there are few if any employees over 40 years of age with that employer.
- Medical Condition: If you have been discriminated against for having a medical condition, and terminated, you may have a legal claim.
Other legal theories that give rise to a wrongful termination claim include but are not limited to discharge because of:
- Sexual Orientation
- National Origin
- Religious Creed/Religion
- Marital Status
- Physical Disability
- Mental or Learning Disability
- Pregnancy Discrimination
Generally speaking, California law recognizes that an employee cannot be fired for engaging in protected activity such as going on legally entitled medical or sick leave or taking time off for jury duty or military leave or for reporting unsafe working conditions. Similarly, an employer cannot terminate an employee because the employee complained to the employer about practices the employee believed were unlawful. For example, an employee cannot be fired for complaining to his or her employer that he or she believes she is entitled to reasonable accommodations for a disability or compensation. Likewise, if an employee is injured at work and files a workers compensation claim, the employee cannot be terminated for that reason because it would be against public policy.Was I Wrongfully Terminated As Retaliation?
Retaliation can take different forms, from a pay-cut, to demotion, to transferring to another less desirable location, to benefit cuts, or suspensions and ultimately a wrongful termination.
California courts generally look at whether an employee engaged in a protected activity (such as complaining about discrimination), and the timing of the adverse action. For example, if an employee complains about discrimination and the supervisor then decides not to go to lunch with that employee, that alone cannot be grounds for retaliation. In California, an employee must prove the action taken against him or her as a whole materially and adversely affected the terms, conditions and privileges of the employee. The courts generally want to see that the adverse action is quantifiable such as actions that impacts an employee’s job performance or prospect for advancement or promotion. Therefore, if an employee complains about discrimination and a day later that employee is fired, then all things considered, that employee is more likely to have been wrongfully terminated and retaliated.
Sometimes employees are scared of complaining about illegal actions or actions by the employer that are discriminatory out of fear of being fired. However, complaining about discrimination or engaging in other protected activity may actually prevent the employer from firing that employee any time soon because the employer may face a lawsuit not just for wrongful termination but also retaliation.
If you are concerned about making a complaint to your employer or legal authorities about your employment, you should contact a Los Angeles wrongful termination lawyer to discuss your options.What are the Most Common Types of Wrongful Termination Damages Awarded to California Employees?
The legal basis for your wrongful termination claim, and the specific facts of your case, will allow our skilled employment law attorneys in Los Angeles, Burbank, and Beverly Hills to determine the overall damages you are entitled to from your employer.
Wrongful termination damages may include:
- Lost wages and benefits.
- Compensation for emotional distress, physical pain, and/or loss of professional reputation.
- Attorney’s fees and costs.
- Punitive damages, which are designed to punish the employer for severe wrongdoing.
Damages in each wrongful termination case against a California employer will vary based on the type of violation that occurred. For example, a breach of implied contract often results in a very different outcome than public policy wrongful termination cases.
Contact a Los Angeles Wrongful Termination Attorney today to learn more about your legal rights, options, and recovery opportunities to hold your employer liable for your wrongful termination.What Should I Do If I Was Wrongfully Terminated In California?
- Immediately Contact A California Wrongful Termination Lawyer. A workplace discharge lawyer can assist you in determining whether the discharge was illegal, the time frame by which to file a lawsuit, whether you have other legal claims, the value of your case, and can possibly negotiate a settlement or severance agreement.
- Gather Your Evidence. Make sure you preserve everything related to your employment including all documents provided by your employer, emails, text messages, cell phone records, credit card bills, and medical bills. Make sure to keep copies of your wage statement to identify the exact name of your employer and the pay you received. It is important to note that you don’t need to have all the evidence before looking for an employment lawyer. A wrongful discharge lawyer can assist you in obtaining evidence from your employer and other sources.
- Obtain Medical Attention for Emotional Distress. Getting fired is stressful and can take an emotional toll, therefore, it important that you seek medical attention for that distress. In addition, records showing you went to see a doctor for emotional distress may help you obtain higher emotional distress damages.
- Stay Away From Social Media. Social media posts and messages can be discoverable and used against you. If you look happy in any of your posts this can be used against you for emotional distress damages in proving for example that you were not emotionally distressed. If you write anything about your firing or about your job, this can also be used against you.
- Avoid Discussing Your Employment Case With Third Parties: Anything you say or write whether in text message, emails, letters, instant messages, or social media posts can be used against you. The worst-case scenario is when an employee messages a current employee details about the case, and those details go to the employer’s lawyer which the employer’s lawyer uses against the employee. Even if those messages are not turned over by the current employee, an employer may be able to obtain those messages through a subpoena or forensics analysis of the cell phone. Therefore, it is best to consult with your wrongful termination lawyer before communicating with any current or former employee about anything related to your employment, especially if those communications are in writing.
While economic damages in wrongful termination cases are limited to monetary losses that are easily quantifiable, such as your wages, emotional distress damages on the other hand are unlimited. Therefore, an employee suing for wrongful termination may recover a lot more in emotional distress damages than in economic damages because economic damages are limited to actual monetary losses while emotional distress damages are whatever the judge/jury/arbitrator believes it is which can be a larger sum. In other words, in wrongful termination cases, there is generally no cap in emotional distress damages. Experienced wrongful termination lawyers know to focus the case on the emotional distress damages portion of the case to recover the most for the employee who was wrongfully terminated.What Are Emotional Distress Damages in A Wrongful Termination Case?
Emotional distress, which sometimes is also called “mental anguish,” is a type of psychological suffering that is caused by an incident or experience of either a negligent nature or intentional nature. California law recognizes that this mental suffering and psychological injury may be brought on by a wrongful termination or discharge.
Emotional distress may be exhibited in disturbances in your life and daily living patterns. For example, you may find that you are experiencing feelings of hopelessness, lack of energy, or having trouble sleeping. Emotional distress is especially prevalent if these issues are arising frequently and more constant and sustained, and if they are making it hard for you to function through your daily life. Therefore, emotional distress can result in long-term effects on you mentally, emotionally, and even physically.How Do I Prove Emotional Distress Damages in A Wrongful Termination Case?
Because it is very difficult to prove a non-physical, psychological injury, emotional distress cases must be backed by evidence that will prove to a judge and/or jury that you have suffered actual emotional distress. Therefore, please know that, if you have been the victim of such injury due to your employer’s conduct, you should immediately seek the help of a qualified healthcare professional. In many cases, this may mean going to see a doctor, a psychiatrist, a psychologist, or a therapist, which may result in a diagnosis of depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder (“PTSD”), or another mental health condition. Keep in mind, also, that an expert witness might be necessary in court to assist with proving that you suffered an actual injury and valuation of damages as a result of this injury; moreover, a lot of what you share with a mental healthcare provider might need to be provided to the opposing counsel through the discovery process.
Another vital element in the way of providing compelling evidence for your claim is to document your experiences. This can be easily done through a diary, in which you can describe your mood, feelings, and thoughts related to the adverse employment action, particularly if your case involves a claim of wrongful termination. Along with a personal journal, it is important to ensure that you maintain and organize your medical and work records, as they will all be taken into account in the valuation and eventual recovery of damages. If you do suffer physical injuries as a result of the emotional distress – such as ulcers, headaches, or other cognitive impairment – you must ensure that this is all meticulously documented in medical reports from your doctor, as these will serve a critical role in demonstrating you’ve suffered emotional distress; therefore, seek medical attention without delay.
Throughout this process, we cannot stress enough the profound importance of discussing your work experience in a clear, open, and straightforward manner with your wrongful termination lawyer. Your employment attorney will review the details of your experience and all of the documents you have gathered and provided to him/her, and he/she will thereby help you better prepare for legal action.How Can the Los Angeles Wrongful Termination Lawyers at Gallenberg PC Help?
At Gallenberg PC, our employment law attorney has offices in Los Angeles, Burbank, and Beverly Hills, so unlawfully terminated employees have access to the legal representation they need to pursue results inside and outside the courtroom — no matter where they live or work in California.
Our primary goal is to make legal services accessible to everyone in California, regardless of a person’s ability to pay.
We understand that many individuals cannot afford to pay upfront hourly rates or retainers for an employment attorney. That does not mean they should not have the legal ability to pursue justice after suffering from unlawful treatment in any California workplace.
Our wrongful termination attorney in Los Angeles, Burbank, and Beverly Hills takes all eligible cases on a contingency basis, which means if we do not win your case, you do not pay our legal fees.
If you believe you were wrongfully terminated in California, contact Gallenberg PC today to discuss your important case with our skilled employment law attorney in Los Angeles at (213) 986-8432, Burbank at (818) 237-5267, or Beverly Hills at (310) 295-1654 to schedule a free intake today.
If you prefer, complete a Free Online Case Review to have your claim screened by our experienced employment law attorney and we will contact you directly to discuss your case.