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California Wrongful Termination Examples

California wrongful termination occurs when a person has been fired or laid off while exercising their legal work rights and duties, or acting in obligation to public safety. This happens when an employee is fired by an employer while refusing to violate a statute or performing a work requirement. An employee can file a lawsuit for wrongful discharge to seek damages.

California is an at-will state, which means employers can terminate an employee without providing cause or justification. Similarly, an employee may also quit anytime.

Wrongful Termination Examples

  1. Sexual Harassment and/or a Hostile Work Environment
  2. Race Discrimination
  3. Retaliation Over Workers' Compensation Claims
  4. Violations Of The Family And Medical Leave Act (FMLA)
  5. Wage And Hour Violations
  6. Whistleblower Retaliation
  7. Fair Housing and Employment Act violations during firing process
  8. Violations of the Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act (WARN)

Wrongful Termination Checklist & FAQs

What is Considered Wrongful Termination?

There are a number of circumstances that might be considered Wrongful Termination in California, which may include an employee who is terminated because of discriminatory practices in the workplace, when a company violates public policy in the process of terminating the employee, or when a company's own guidelines for termination were not followed.

In addition, there are other reasons such as being fired for blowing the whistle on your employer as you report issues such as lack of safety in the workplace or report some illegal activity in which your employer is engaged.  If you are wondering do you need a  wrongful termination lawyer it may be in your best interest to contact experienced wrongfully fired lawyers.

1. Sexual Harassment And Hostile Work Environment Wrongful Termination

Sexual harassment is illegal under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. You may be able to receive back pay, get reinstated to your job, and may even be able to obtain punitive damages and compensation for attorneys' fees.

In some companies, sexual harassment is so rampant and ingrained in the culture that it leads to a hostile work environment where employees struggle to be productive and effectively carry out their job duties. In some cases, employees are forced to quit because they are unable to tolerate the harassment anymore.

Sexual harassment should never be tolerated. If you have been sexually harassed at work and believe that you were fired because of it, as retaliation for complaining about it or quit your job because you just couldn't take it anymore, you may be able to file a wrongful termination lawsuit seeking compensation not just for monetary damages, but also for the emotional pain and suffering such experiences have caused you.

2. Race Discrimination Wrongful Termination

State and federal laws are crystal clear that it is unacceptable for any employee to be treated unfairly because of his or her race or the color of their skin.

Racial discrimination in the workplace might include segregating employees of a particular race in certain jobs, making decisions about hiring, firing or promoting employees based on race, racial stereotyping, or making distinctions based on skin color.

When such discriminatory practices create a hostile work environment or if you are terminated due to racial discrimination or for complaining about it, you may have a valid claim for wrongful termination.

3. Retaliation Over Workers' Compensation Claims Wrongful Termination

Retaliation over workers' compensation is another common scenario that could result in wrongful termination.

In such cases, employers may fire or lay off an employee after he or she has filed a workers' compensation claim due to an injury suffered on the job.

If you have been injured on the job and were fired after trying to apply for or receive workers' compensation benefits because you made the claim for benefits, you may have a wrongful termination lawsuit against your employer.

Employers are also prohibited from firing or threatening to fire employees who testify on behalf of another employee in a workers' compensation proceeding. California courts have also ruled in the past that it is illegal for employers to retaliate against employees for missing work due to a work-related injury.

Similarly, when a worker becomes disabled because of a work-related injury, California law prohibits discrimination based on that disability. It is illegal as well for employers to fire employees for participating in rehabilitation services that are offered as a workers' compensation benefit.

4. Violations Of The Family And Medical Leave Act (FMLA) Wrongful Termination

The federal Family and Medical Leave Act provides protected leave from work when employees are ill, need to take care of a loved one who is ill or is caring for or bonding with a newborn or new baby.

Employees have the right to return to their job and to be free from retaliation for taking leave. Private employers must have 50 or more employees for at least 20 weeks a year to be covered by the law. 

Employees are eligible for FMLA leave if they have worked at a job for at least one year and for at least 1,250 hours. Eligible employees can receive up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave for the following reasons.

  • Birth and care of a newborn child.
  • Care of an adopted or foster child.
  • Caring for a family member who is suffering from a serious medical condition.
  • If the employee is suffering from a medical condition that prevents him or her from doing his or her job.
  • Caring for a member in the armed forces who is under medical care for a serious injury or illness.

If you were fired as a consequence of taking family or medical leave to which you are entitled under the law, you may have a wrongful termination lawsuit. An experienced Los Angeles employment attorney will be able to provide more information about pursuing your legal rights.

5. Wage And Hour Dispute Wrongful Termination

If you were fighting against your employer to secure unpaid wages, commissions, or overtime and got fired as a result, you may be able file a wrongful termination lawsuit. Wage and hour disputes can be complex and intimidating. But you have legal protections as an employee under California and federal laws.

Some of the common wage and hour violations we see include failure to pay minimum wage, not allowing employees to take rest or meal breaks, not paying workers overtime as required under labor laws, and misclassifying workers.

If you are filing a wrongful termination lawsuit over wage and hour issues, it would be in your best interest to compile documentation including pay stubs, employment contracts, company policies, schedules, etc. Such documentation can help bolster your claim and serve as valuable evidence.

6. Whistleblower Retaliation Wrongful Termination

If you reported illegal activity on the part of your employer and were fired as a result, you may have a wrongful termination case. Below are wrongful termination case examples to help better demonstrate.

If you reported sexual harassment in your workplace to the company's human resources department and were fired soon after, that is a sign that your employer fired you as retaliation for reporting the harassment.

You may also have been wrongfully terminated if you were fired after blowing the whistle on the illicit activity at your workplace such as safety violations, fraud, etcetera. Using an employment lawyer to evaluate whistleblower violations can uncover evidence that may be overlooked.

Wrongful Termination Checklist

  • Was I forced to quit due to sexual harassment or an unfair workplace?
  • Was I fired due to my race?
  • Was I fired for claiming workers' compensation?
  • Was I fired for taking family leave?
  • Was I fired for demanding wages that were owed to me?

What is Wrongful Constructive Termination?

Wrongful construction termination is said to occur when an employee is forced to resign from their job because the employer was making it impossible for him or her to continue. In order to file a wrongful constructive termination claim, the employee must show that the employer deliberately created an "intolerable" work environment or allowed working conditions to exit that would cause a reasonable employee to quit because of them.

Wrongful constructive termination claims can also be filed in cases where the employer would not have been within reason to fire the employee in question because of an implied contract or public policy.

How to Determine If You Were Wrongfully Terminated

It is often fairly obvious when you have been wrongfully fired. If you answer "yes" to the questions below, you may have been wrongfully terminated:

  • Were you fired because of your race, religion, age, disability or other protected
  • Did you lose your job because you needed to take family leave?
  • Were you forced to resign because the sexual harassment in your workplace
    because unbearable?
  • Did you lose your job soon after you filed a workers' compensation claim?
  • Were you fired because you asked to be paid wages that were rightfully owed to
  • Did your employer fire you because you reported their unethical or fraudulent
    practices to the government?

Contacting A Wrongful Termination Lawyer

If you have been illegally terminated from your job, the experienced wrongful termination lawyers at Kingsley Szamet & Ly can help you better understand your legal rights and options. We offer a no-win-no-fee guarantee, which means we don't charge you any fees unless you receive compensation. Call us at (818) 990-8300 for a free, comprehensive, and confidential consultation.

About The Author

Eric Kingsley
Eric Kingsley

Eric B. Kingsley is a 2023 "Best In Law" Award winner and has litigated over 150 class actions. He is also an AV peer rated attorney and a prolific speaker at various seminars on employment law.

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