According to Inc. Magazine, wrongful terminations have been rising sharply over the past few years. Unfortunately, many of these cases still go unreported, and the vague wording of California’s labor laws doesn’t help. If you think you have been wrongfully terminated, it is all too easy to feel that your situation isn’t worth pursuing and just continue on with your life.
But it doesn’t have to be that way.
With help from a Los Angeles wrongful termination attorney, you can hold your employer accountable for misconduct and may receive a financial award for everything you have been forced to endure.
But before you get started with a lawsuit, you first need to determine whether you actually have a case. In this article, we discuss various examples of wrongful termination lawsuits.
What is Considered Wrongful Termination?
First of all, you should know that unless you have an employment contract that specifically states otherwise, your boss is perfectly justified in firing you for absolutely no reason. That is right – California’s “at-will” employment system means that your boss can fire you without even giving you justification.
We’ve all been there before:
Your boss might say something extremely vague like: “The company has been re-evaluating its long-term goals, and I’m afraid we just can’t find a place for you in our future.”
You might walk away scratching your head. You might demand answers. But it is perfectly legal for your boss to shrug without saying another word.
So, if this is the case, then how can you possibly sue your employer for wrongful termination? Here’s the thing: Your boss might not give you a reason for your dismissal – but they might still be firing you for something illegal.
These things might include your race, your beliefs, your national origin, your gender, your sexual identity, and many other features that you are simply born with.
If your employer is firing you for these reasons, they are breaking the law – plain and simple. Gather evidence, prove that your employer fired you based on one of these features, and you can hold them accountable in court.
Aside from wrongful termination based on race or gender, you can also be fired illegally for taking certain actions – like reporting misconduct or demanding overtime.
Let’s get into the specifics of some of these examples:
Wrongful Termination Examples
There are many examples of wrongful termination to consider. Even if your situation does not perfectly match with any of these examples, you may still have a lawsuit.
- Sexual Harassment and/or a Hostile Work Environment
A wrongful termination lawsuit based on sexual harassment or a hostile work environment is quite common. This may play out in several ways. First of all, you may be fired for reporting sexual harassment that you witnessed in the workplace. Even if you did not directly experience this, you can still be fired unlawfully for reporting it.
Of course, you can also be wrongfully terminated if you report sexual harassment that you experienced firsthand. This might be direct physical harassment, verbal humiliation, or a hostile work environment.
If you were forced to quit due to sexual harassment, you may still file a wrongful termination claim – even if you were never actually fired. For example, you might have been forced to quit in disgrace as a colleague circulated inappropriate photos of you.
- Race Discrimination
This is another extremely common wrongful termination example. You may be fired when your boss finds out about your racial background. For example, a store owner might dismiss you when they find out that you are a mixed-race individual and not a “pure white” American.
Whatever the case may be, race discrimination is always illegal in California workplaces. As with sexual harassment, you can also be wrongfully terminated for reporting racial discrimination that you witnessed in the workplace.
In some cases, you may have the ability to sue even if you were forced to quit because of racial discrimination rather than being fired outright. For example, you might have quit your job in frustration after years of co-workers mocking your Chinese accent.
- Age Discrimination
Many employers make the mistake of discriminating against employees based on their age – often without even realizing it. It’s all too common for trendy tech companies to fire senior workers in favor of younger workers who will accept lower pay.
But to the surprise of many of these organizations, this is completely illegal under California law. Some companies blatantly state that they are making their workforce more “youthful,” not realizing that they are incriminating themselves in the process.
Many elderly workers have successfully sued their employers after being let go specifically because of their age. This is even more common in the modern age as companies try to cut costs and get rid of senior employees who receive solid benefits and reasonable wages.
- Retaliation Over Workers’ Compensation Claims
As a resident of California, you are fully within your rights to file a Workers’ Compensation claim after becoming injured. Employers may not be overly enthusiastic about paying out these claims and experiencing higher premiums for employer insurance, but it’s something they have to do.
If your boss decides to fire you in an effort to avoid paying a workers’ comp claim, they are breaking the law. Even if they agree to pay the claim but fire you shortly after as revenge, this also constitutes a breach of employment law.
- Violations of the Family And Medical Leave Act (FMLA)
California also protects your access to family and medical leave. If you become pregnant and need to take time off to deal with this family issue, your employer cannot fire you.
Even if you’re not the one who’s pregnant, you can take time off to look after new children or your pregnant partner. You can also take time off to look after sick family members.
If you become sick yourself, you also may be entitled to medical leave.
It is illegal for your employer to fire you for these reasons.
- Wage and Hour Violations
If you discover that your employer has been underpaying you or forcing you to work long hours without appropriate pay in violation of California law, you can report these issues to the appropriate authorities without fear of retaliation.
If you are fighting for the rights of a fellow employee who is not being paid enough overtime, your employer cannot terminate you for taking these actions.
- Whistleblower Retaliation
California’s whistleblower laws give you the ability to speak out about your company’s illegal misconduct without fear of being fired or retaliated against in any way.
This is one of the most important laws in our society, as it keeps companies accountable.
For example, you might discover that your employer – a soft drink manufacturing company – is putting addictive drugs in its products to increase sales.
Or perhaps you discover that the bank you have been working for is illegally laundering money.
If you report these things to a government agency or internally, it would likely be illegal to terminate you.
- Fair Housing and Employment Act Violations
Otherwise known simply as “FEHA,” the Fair Housing and Employment Act protects employees against a wide range of potential wrongful dismissals. Here are some examples of those violations:
- Fired because of your race
- Fired because of your color
- Fired because of your religion
- Fired because of your sex
- Fired because of your gender
- Fired because of your reproductive health decisions
- Fired because of your sexual orientation
- Fired because of your marital status
- Fired because of your military or veteran status
- Fired because of your national origin
- Fired because of your ancestry
- Fired because of your disability
- Fired because of your genetics
- Fired after requesting family care leave
- Fired after requesting medical leave
- Fired for being over the age of 40
- Fired for reporting patient abuse
- Fired for your criminal background
Each of these examples represents a different “protected class” in California.
- Violations of the Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act (WARN)
In certain situations, your employer may be required to provide you with 60 days of advance notice before dismissing you. This is covered under the WARN Act, and it usually involves plant closures or mass layoffs.
Speak with your attorney about whether your position may be covered under the WARN Act. If it is, you can sue your employer and recover compensation.
If any of this sounds familiar, you may have a wrongful termination lawsuit on your hands.
How to Determine if You Were Wrongfully Terminated?
- Was your employment contract violated?
- Did you recently report misconduct?
- Did you recently request leave?
- Are you a member of a “protected class?”
- Does your company have a policy of hiring younger workers to replace older employees?
What is Wrongful Constructive Termination?
Wrongful constructive termination is when your employer creates a working environment that forces you to quit. Even though your boss might not actually fire you, they leave you with no other option but to leave the company.
For example, they might force you to do illegal things or fail to take action against someone who was harassing you. In the eyes of the law, this may give rise to a wrongful constructive termination.
What Can I Recover if I Have Been Wrongfully Terminated?
A wrongful termination lawsuit may include compensation for missed wages. Therefore, one of the first things you should do is determine how your income has been affected by your wrongful dismissal.
You should also consider any other out-of-pocket losses you have incurred as a direct result of your wrongful dismissal. Finally, you may be entitled to recover damages for emotional distress.
Why Should a Person Hire Fraigun Law for a Wrongful Termination Case?
If you have been searching for a Los Angeles employment lawyer who can assist you with your wrongful termination lawsuit, consider Fraigun Law. Over the years, we have been helping numerous plaintiffs in the Golden State with a wide range of employment lawsuits, including those that involve wrongful dismissals.
Consider us for our solid track record of positive results, our experience levels, and our commitment to workers’ rights.
Wrongful terminations occur all the time in California. If you have been affected by this blatant violation of employment law, there’s no need to simply sit back and accept it.
Book your consultation today with Fraigun Law Group to get started with an effective action plan, hold your negligent employer accountable, and recover the financial settlement you deserve.