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2024 How to Sue for Wrongful Termination in California

Emanuel Shirazi

Being terminated from any job can be an emotional experience, but knowing that you were unlawfully discharged can be particularly upsetting. No employee in California can be let go for an unlawful reason. If you were fired as the result of discrimination or retaliation, you may wonder what legal resources you have and how to sue for wrongful termination in California.

Can I Sue for Wrongful Termination in California?

One of the first steps when determining if you can sue for wrongful termination is to work with an attorney to see if you have a case. California is an “at-will” state, meaning that any worker can be fired at any time without prior notice. Being fired does not give you legal grounds for suing your former employer, but if you were unlawfully fired, you likely have a case.

California’s Fair Employment and Housing Act and the California Labor Code provide many provisions that protect employees from being terminated for unlawful reasons. In California, workers cannot be discharged:

  • Due to retaliation after the worker committed a protected act
  • Because of a protected characteristic, like disability, age, race, and gender

If you were let go from work in violation of your employment contract or due to an unlawful reason, your attorney can review the facts of your case to determine which legal step to take.

For some clients, the right course of action is to see the complaint process through with a government agency. Other clients who suffered considerably from their termination may have the option of filing a civil claim against the at-fault party after filing an administrative complaint. The claim can seek punitive damages and other forms of relief through the courts.

To prepare for your claim, your attorney may ask for work records, work performance reviews, and other forms of evidence that strengthen your case. If your employer showed a pattern of giving preferential treatment to certain employees while discriminating against you, that could show a pattern of bias that led to your wrongful termination.

If other employees who share your protected characteristic had similar negative experiences with the same employer, that could also bolster your case.

What Types of Damages Can I Seek When Suing My Former Employer?

Once your employment attorney has completed the administrative complaint, you may be eligible to sue the former employer that terminated you. Having an experienced lawyer by your side can be an important asset. With the right legal counsel and strong evidence, your case could result in a favorable settlement offer from the defendant.

Many employers, when faced with a strong case from the plaintiff, seek to minimize liability by offering to settle the case for a set amount of money. They may offer to reinstate the plaintiff as an employee. Offers of reinstatement are always because the employer’s attorney wants it to cap damages, not because the former employer wants the employee back.

Determining an appropriate compensation amount can be a challenge. You are not obligated to accept a settlement amount, but doing so may be in your interest. Your lawyer will provide counsel on whether you should accept the settlement. The settlement can compensate you for lost wages, out-of-pocket expenses, and lost benefits. Fees and costs are also usually taken into account for any asettlement.

If both parties cannot agree on a settlement amount, the case will go to trial, and a judge or jury will decide if the defendant is at fault and what they should pay if so.


Q: What Qualifies as Wrongful Termination in California?

A: Wrongful termination refers to any instance where an employer fires a worker for an unlawful reason. For example, no employee can be discharged for exercising a protected right, like notifying a state agency about workplace safety concerns. A wrongful termination also refers to any situation where someone is let go from their job in violation of a contract agreement. Discriminatory termination is also unlawful in California.

Q: How Much Is a Wrongful Termination Claim Worth in California?

A: The value of a wrongful termination claim in California depends hundreds of factors, including the harm that you incurred as a result of being wrongfully terminated. This could be determined by your salary and the financial consequences of your being let go. A wrongful termination claim could also involve damages resulting from pain and suffering, along with punitive damages aimed at holding the at-fault party accountable for misconduct.

Q: Has Anyone Ever Won a Wrongful Termination Claim?

A: Wrongful termination claims are won all the time. One way you can improve the chances that you can win your case and receive a favorable settlement is by working with an experienced wrongful termination attorney who has helped clients win similar cases. With the right attorney and strong evidence, you can bolster your chances of a favorable outcome to your case.

Q: Whom Do I Contact for Wrongful Termination in California?

A: Wrongful termination cases require the help of an attorney who understands California’s complicated labor laws and employment laws. You can technically work with any attorney who is licensed by the State Bar of California, but each field of law is very different. Look for a lawyer or law firm that focuses on employment law. Finding legal counsel who understands wrongful termination laws would be ideal.

Schedule Your Wrongful Termination Consultation Today

Being discharged from a job due to an unlawful reason can lead to emotional and financial distress. Those situations can be particularly emotional when you know that you were terminated unlawfully. Fortunately, you can sue the person or company that wrongfully fired you. With the help of a wrongful termination attorney, you can hold the at-fault party accountable. As part of your settlement, you may be offered monetary compensation.

The courts may compel your former employer to take you back if you want to return to your former place of employment, but you are under no obligation to return. To schedule your wrongful termination consultation, contact Shirazi Law Firm, PC, today.

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