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How To Sue for Wrongful Termination in California

July 29, 2021 Legal Team

California is an “at-will” employment state, which means that you, as an employee, and your employer have the right to conclude the employment relationship at any time and without notice.

However, this does not mean that employers have the right to terminate your employment for just any reason. If your employer fires you for an illegal reason, you may have a viable wrongful termination lawsuit.

Wrongful termination occurs when your employment agreement is ended by your employer in violation of your legal rights. The following federal and state laws protect employees from being fired for discriminatory reasons:

In addition to discriminatory reasons, you may also have a wrongful termination case if you are fired as a result of being part of a protected group.

Protected Classes

The federal government as well as California state law prohibit employers from terminating employees for having certain characteristics.

Federally Protected Classes

Federal law prohibits employers from firing employees for any of the following:

  • Age (40+)
  • Race
  • Sex (including pregnancy, gender identity, and sexual orientation)
  • Physical disability
  • Mental disability
  • Religion or religious practices
  • National origin
  • Political affiliation

Protected Classes in California

The state of California takes it several steps further than the federal government. In fact, California has some of the most all-encompassing and protective laws for employees in the country. As an employee in California, you may not be fired for any of the following:

  • Race, color
  • Ancestry, national origin
  • Religion, creed
  • Age (40+)
  • Physical disability
  • Mental disability
  • Sex or gender (including pregnancy, childbirth, breastfeeding, or related medical conditions)
  • Sexual orientation
  • Gender identity, gender expression
  • Medical condition
  • Genetic information
  • Marital status
  • Military and veteran status

Filing a Wrongful Termination Lawsuit in California

If you believe you’ve been wrongfully terminated, it’s critical that you seek legal representation as soon as possible. In the meantime, it’s a good idea to have certain elements of your case prepared to help your attorney understand your circumstances.

Prepare and Organize Your Documents

In order to have a viable case, you’ll need articulate proof showing that you were wrongfully let go from your position. Obtain all of the formal documentation and be sure to make note of any details you could forget later. Some examples of the documents you should have are as follows:

  • Your termination letter
  • Copies of all past performance evaluations

You may need to reach out to your employer to obtain some of these documents. If your employer is unresponsive, your attorney may have a better chance of obtaining the information needed.

Verbal Communication

In addition to written documentation, California state law accepts verbal conversations as evidence. If you had conversations with your employer about your termination, job performance, or any other verbal communication resulting in particular expectations regarding your job security, these conversations may be admissible as evidence in court.

For this reason, it’s a good idea to make detailed notes of these conversations to the best of your ability. Keep these notes in a safe and secure place where you can find them. Be sure to include the date, place, and all parties involved in these conversations.

Look Over Your Employment Contract

Reread your employment contract so that you are absolutely sure you’ve been fired without just cause. Sometimes, employers provide reasons for termination that appear to be legitimate, but your contract may state otherwise.

Don’t Seek Revenge

Although you may have felt blindsided by your employer’s decision to terminate you, it’s in your best interest not to retaliate against your employer or otherwise seek revenge. Doing so can destroy your case and your working reputation. Play it safe by being cordial.

Having a skilled California employment attorney on your side can make the biggest difference in the outcome of your case. It’s unwise to try and deal with such matters on your own. An experienced attorney will know the best way to handle your case so that you have the best chances of getting what you’re after.

Contact our office today with the details of your case by calling (949) 379-6250 or by filling out the online contact form.