Wrongful Termination

Wrongful Termination

Being fired from your job is a terrible experience that can completely change your life. Losing your job can be very stressful, leaving you feeling lost. How are you going to pay your bills? How are you going to take care of yourself, your family and possibly others that you may be helping? How long will it take to find a new job? These are all valid questions because the steady stream of income you once had that was paying for things like mortgage/rent, loans, food, bills etc. has stopped. All of these questions will be racing through your head along with, did I actually do something wrong to get fired, or do I have rights here?

As an Orange County law firm that focuses on employment law, we often get questions from potential clients about whether or not they were fired illegally. California is an “at-will” state for employment purposes. Being an “at-will” employee means that employers may terminate an employee for any or no reason at all. Sounds pretty unfair, but there are limitations to firing for any reason. The reason for firing an employee must be one that doesn’t violate any federal or state laws. If the employer fires an employee for any reason that is prohibited by federal or state law, the firing is considered “wrongful termination.”

If you have any reason to believe that you may have been wrongfully terminated, you may be able to file a law suit against your former employer. It doesn’t matter how large the employer is, this is not something to be afraid of. Being wrongfully terminated is against the law and you may have some form of legal action. Our staff will thoroughly go over your case with you to give you an honest assessment of your case and whether you have valid grounds to sue your prior employer for wrongful termination.

If you already have an attorney and feel like that attorney doesn’t care or is not maximizing their efforts on your case, contact our firm for a free second opinion!

Did My Employer Illegally Fire Me?

Even though California is an at-will employment state (as stated above), that does not mean that employers are free to fire you for any reason. Federal and state laws prohibit employers from breaching any contract (written or oral). The employer is not allowed to violate public policy (federal, state, nor local). In addition, employers cannot retaliate against any employee who brought unsafe or illegal work practices to light, filed a worker’s compensation case, complained to HR about harassment or discrimination and much more. To prove a wrongful termination, there are many different scenarios to consider.

Breach of Contract:

Many employees in California are in fact “at-will”, but not all are. Some employees sign contracts offered by employers that outline things like job security, potential for growth, promises, income and many other things. If you have signed an employee contract, you may have a strong argument against being an at-will employee. A contract may be straight forward and state promises to you that give you sense of security knowing that you are only going to be fired for good cause or for reasons listed in the contract. On the other hand, a contract may not be straight forward and list reasons for you to be fired, but they may be implied.

Implied Promises:

Normally when an employee accepts a job without signing a contract, the employee would be considered “at-will”; however, there is an exception to at-will employment. You may be able to overcome at-will employment if an employment contract is implied. Implied employment contracts are agreements made based on things said to you by your employer about your future with them, their behaviors, promises, and much more. Most employers are cautious about what they promise and/or say to employees to try and avoid creating implied contracts, but not every employer is successful. To determine whether there has been a breach of an implied employment contract, some things to consider are:

  • How long you have been employed with the employer
  • Promises of long-term employment
  • Promises that you would continue to have a job
  • Positive job performance evaluations
  • Regularly receiving job promotions
Discrimination:

Federal and state laws prohibit employers from firing employees for reasons the laws are willing to protect against. There are many groups of people that the federal and state laws recognize as vulnerable; thus, these laws place protections on members of these groups to prevent them from being unlawfully fired. Here are a few groups that are protected by law from being unlawfully terminated:

  • Termination Discrimination based on race
  • Termination Discrimination based on age
  • Termination Discrimination based on gender
  • Termination Discrimination based on sex
  • Termination Discrimination based on sexual orientation
  • Termination Discrimination based on disability
  • Termination Discrimination for being pregnant

If you have been fired and believe that it was because you are a member of one of these protected groups, you may have a right to file a lawsuit against your former employer for wrongful termination. Our Orange County wrongful termination attorney is well equipped to help you stand up against your former employer and fight for your voice to be heard. Some employers think they can get away with treating employees poorly, but our firm does not stand for that type of behavior. Although we are based in Orange County, our attorney takes cases all over the state of California.

Retaliation

Employers retaliate against employees for many different reasons, but many of these retaliations are considered unlawful. Some unlawful retaliation terminations are listed below:

  • Employee complains about harassment
  • Employee complains about sexual harassment
  • Employee complains about dangerous workplace conditions
  • Employee complains about wage and hour issues
  • Employee complains about employer’s illegal activities
  • Employee complains about Human Resources
  • Employee complains about overtime issues
  • Employee files for worker’s compensation
  • Employee takes a leave protected by the Family Medical Leave Act and is fired eventually for it

Here are a few examples of wrongful retaliation termination:

  • Being denied a promotion, fired, receiving unjust negative performance evaluations, etc.
  • Firing you for performing a legally protected act like filing a worker’s compensation claim
  • The employer has been put on notice about issues and hasn’t done anything to remedy the situation so you file a lawsuit against them for harassment, they cannot then retaliate against you for a scenario like that. 

Employers are prohibited from violating public policies and firing employees. If an employer unlawfully fires an employee because they are a member of a protected group, it is considered a “wrongful termination”. In this situation, an employee has a right to sue their prior employer. In addition to the reasons listed above, an employer cannot fire an employee for the following reasons:

  • Taking time off work to serve on a jury
  • Taking time off work to vote
  • Serving in the military
  • Filing for a legally protected right
Whistle-Blowing Violations

There are whistle-blowing laws in place to protect employees from employers. Employees are protected and encouraged to speak up about illegal activities performed by the employer or which the employer takes part in, resulting in broken laws or regulations. It promotes safety for employees and the environment as a whole. 

Breach of Duty of Good Faith and Fair Dealing

You may have the right to file a breach of duty of good faith and fair dealings claim against your prior employer if they acted unlawfully when firing you. Let’s take a look at some actions your employer may take that would be considered bad faith:

  • Keeping information from an employee that should be disclosed like the dangerous nature of a job duty;
  • Make promises wages, promotions, commissions and more that are untruthful;
  • Lying to an employee about the reason for firing them when the truth behind the firing is actually something of a lesser moral standard. For example, hiring someone who is younger or finding cheaper labor;
  • Giving an employee job tasks intentionally to motivate the employee to quit in the employers benefit to avoid paying out severance packages; etc.

Can I Sue My Former Employer for Wrongful Termination?

Before you are able to file a lawsuit against your former employer for wrongful termination, you must first obtain a right to sue letter from the Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) or the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). There are time limits in which you have to bring forward your lawsuit, also known as the statute of limitations. Depending on your situation, there may be different statute of limitations on your case, so it is important to know your case and when the deadline to file is before time runs out. If the statute of limitations runs, then you are no longer able to file your lawsuit. To learn more about whether you have a case for wrongful termination, please contact us.

Do I Have a Wrongful Termination Case?

To determine if you have a strong wrongful termination case, contact an employment lawyer and have them review your case. Ally Law Group offers you a free consultation to completely go over your case. This means that a member of our staff will sit with you, listen to your complete story of what happened and give you honest and truthful guidance on whether or not you have a shot at a successful case against your prior employer. Ally Law Group also offers a ZERO FEE GUARANTEE! This means you will not pay anything unless we win the case and this places all the risk on us. This puts the pressure on us to do the best we can to win your case!

Contact Ally Law Group Today!

We believe we are the best employment law firm in Orange County because we care for our clients. Our clients are an extension of our family and we strive to protect and fight for every penny our clients deserve. If you feel like you may have a case against your former employer for wrongful termination, contact us today for a free consultation!

About Ally Law Group

Our Law Firm is driven by a diverse clientele that requires us to think outside of the box. Each case has different factual circumstances, so each case will be different. We find it exciting to develop strategic plans with our clients, showing them that they do have a chance at achieving their goals no matter what type of case they have.

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