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What is Wrongful Termination Under California Law?

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There is a difference between being fired for a job and being wrongfully terminated. While being fired is not terribly uncommon, a person who is wrongfully terminated is one who has lost their job for a reason considered illegal in the eyes of the law. The person who has been wrongfully terminated may be entitled to significant compensation through a civil wrongful termination lawsuit. It is important to understand what wrongful termination is in California before deciding whether to move forward with the lawsuit. It is strongly advised that you work with a skilled Orange County workers’ comp attorney before making any decisions regarding your case.

What Is Considered Wrongful Termination in California?

There are various reasons for termination that may be considered “wrongful” and thereby illegal in California. While FL may be an at-will employment state, if a person loses their job for the following reasons, it may result in a wrongful termination case:

  • Discriminatory actions. Both federal and California state laws prohibit certain types of discrimination in the workplace, including discrimination based on a person’s age, race, disability, genetic information, religion, sex, national origin, marital status, pregnancy status, gender, and more. Terminations based on any of these factors are illegal.
  • Whistleblowing or reporting retaliation. Employees have the right to report any allegations of illegal or questionable conduct on the part of their employer. These reports may be internal or they may be to external regulatory agencies or law enforcement. Employees cannot be terminated for exercising their whistleblowing rights. Employees can also not be retaliated against for reporting instances of discrimination or sexual harassment within the workplace.
  • Refusing to participate/sexual harassment. There are times when employees terminate workers for their refusal to participate in sexual advances, sexual harassment, discrimination, or other illegal workplace activities.
  • Family and medical leave. It is illegal to terminate an employee who asks for or takes leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act. This includes maternity leave as allowed under the law, leave taken to care for a family member who is ill, and leave taken if an employee sustains a significant injury or illness.
  • Wage or overtime disputes. It is illegal for an employee to fire a worker because an employer owes them wages or because an employee has raised concerns about the failure to pay minimum wage or overtime.
  • Workers’ compensation claims. Employers are not allowed to terminate somebody because they filed a legitimate workers’ compensation claim after sustaining a workplace injury or illness.

What Type of Compensation Is Available for a Wrongful Termination Case?

There may be various types of compensation available to those who are successful in their civil wrongful termination case. This could include:

  • Back and front pay
  • Coverage of any unpaid overtime
  • Reinstatement to a job if necessary and desired
  • Pain and suffering damages
  • Emotional distress images
  • Possible punitive damages against an employer

It is incredibly important to work with a skilled California employment law attorney if you think you have a valid wrongful termination case. These claims can become incredibly difficult, but an attorney will have the resources and legal experience necessary to conduct a full investigation into your case.

Covid 19 Update: We are accepting new cases and we handle everything electronically and remotely, so our clients never have to leave their homes.