Los Angeles Wrongful Termination Lawyer
Most employees are considered “at-will,” which means that they can be fired at any time by their employer. However, California law has carved out multiple exceptions to at-will employment doctrine to protect employees from being wrongfully terminated. At the Dolan Law Firm, we understand how vital gainful employment is to our clients in the Los Angeles area. Our attorneys provide compassionate and zealous advocacy for all of our clients who have been wrongfully terminated, so if you believe that you were illegally fired by your employer you have come to the right place.
Grounds for Wrongful Termination
At-will employment in California means that an employer can lawfully fire an employee for almost any reason, but they are prevented from firing an employee for specific reasons deemed unlawful. These include firing or using constructive termination against an employee as a result of discrimination against a protected characteristic, in retaliation for whistleblowing or protected political activities, or in violation of the state WARN Act.
- Constructive Termination
Constructive termination occurs when an employer does not actually fire an employee but makes the working conditions so terrible or untenable that the employee has no choice but to quit, when the employer would have otherwise not been able to fire the employee at-will due to an actual or implied contract, violation of public policy, or other protected employment reason. In order to prove constructive termination, the employee must show that the employer knowingly created working conditions that are so terrible that a reasonable employer in a similar situation would expect a reasonable employee to resign.
- Discrimination Against a Protected Class
An employer is not allowed to fire an employee due to discrimination against an employee’s protected class, whether real or presumed. Protected classes include an employee’s race, gender, disability, sexual orientation, religion, and more. In addition, the California Fair Employment and Housing Act makes it illegal to wrongfully terminate an employee who opposes harassment or discrimination against another employee, that files a complaint about harassment or discrimination, or who testifies or assists in any investigation or lawsuit regarding employee harassment or discrimination.
- Retaliation for Whistleblowing
An employer may not wrongfully terminate an employee in retaliation for whistleblowing. This occurs when an employer fires an employee for reporting a potential or actual violation of the law by the employer to the authorities or government agency. In California, whistleblower protection is codified in the state’s Labor Code and in the False Claims Act, which protects employees from wrongful termination if they report potential embezzlement or fraud involving state funds. In addition, the Sarbanes-Oxley Act protects employees from being wrongfully terminated from publicly traded companies if the employee reports a suspected securities fraud.
- Protected Political Activities or Affiliations
The First Amendment to the United States Constitution protects employees from being wrongfully terminated for protected political activities or speech. California law extends this to both public and private companies, stating that employers are prohibited from controlling their employees’ political activities. Employers cannot terminate employees for being part of a political party, attending political rallies, or running for public office. Employers also cannot wrongfully terminate employees after failing to coerce the employees to take a particular political action, such as voting for a certain political candidate.
- Violations of the California WARN Act
Finally, employees can seek compensation for wrongful termination if their employer did not comply with the California Worker Retraining and Notification Act (WARN). In companies that employ over seventy-five employees, the WARN Act requires that employers give at least sixty days’ notice before laying off fifty or more employees, or closing or relocating a facility. Employees can seek compensation for the amount of days that the notice fell short.
When to File a Wrongful Termination Lawsuit
The statute of limitations for a wrongful termination lawsuit can be extremely short and varies based on the grounds used in the lawsuit. Given the complexity and confusion surrounding wrongful termination laws, it is important to secure an experienced employment attorney as soon as possible following an illegal firing.
For example, wrongful terminations that violate public policy have a statute of limitations of two years from the date of the firing. For actions filed under the whistleblower protections of the Labor Code or for failure to comply with the WARN Act, the time limit is three years. However, for wrongful termination under the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, an employee only has 180 days. At the Dolan Law Firm, our wrongful termination lawyers in Los Angeles understand how stressful this process can be and work with our clients every step of the way through their wrongful termination lawsuits.
Compensation for Wrongful Termination
Once an employee has proven wrongful termination by their employer, they are entitled to compensation for a number of damages under California law. The most important is lost wages and benefits. This includes all wages from the termination through the end of the lawsuit, plus the value of the benefits accrued during the time. However, the employer is allowed to deduct any wages and benefit earned through another position the employee has taken during the course of the litigation.
Employees can also collect damages for emotional distress and related harms caused by the wrongful termination. This includes compensation for any pain and suffering, mental anguish, loss of enjoyment of life, anxiety, or humiliation caused by the wrongful termination. In certain situations, attorneys’ fees may also be collected by the employee if wrongfully terminated under specific laws.
Finally, in particularly grievous situations, a wrongfully terminated employee may collect punitive damages in addition to their compensatory damages. Punitive damages are not related to any harm suffered by the employee. They are meant to punish the employer for their particularly wanton behavior and serve as a deterrent to other employers who might think to wrongfully terminate employees in a similar manner. The employment attorneys at Dolan Law Firm work hard to ensure that their clients who have been wrongfully terminated get fully compensated for their claims.
Contact the Dolan Law Firm Today
Being wrongfully terminated from your job is a jarring and upsetting experience. Most people don’t know who to go to or what their options are. The attorneys at the Dolan Law Firm in Los Angeles are here to provide top-tier legal representation for their clients who have been wrongfully terminated from their jobs and can help you, too. Call the office or contact us online today to schedule a consultation of your case.