Steps to Take if You Were Wrongfully Terminated

Posted by: kevensteinberg
Category: Blog, Employment Law

Being terminated from employment comes with many emotions. If you believe you were wrongfully terminated, those emotions can be compounded by others and feel even stronger. However, it’s critical that you keep your emotions in check and not let them lead you to make any poor decisions. Instead, focus them on taking steps to protect yourself from wrongful termination.

Gather Information

As soon as you suspect that your termination might have been unwarranted, you should collect evidence to prove your suspicions. Such evidence includes the following:

  • Documents
  • Files
  • Emails
  • Text messages
  • Videos
  • Eye-witness testimony

You will also want to inquire about why you were terminated and who made the termination decision.. You should request to view your personnel file. Journal your account of the events that lead up to you losing your job. Your statement will add context to any evidence you collect and support your memory in case you need to recall the events months or even years from now. For example, if you file a California claim or lawsuit for wrongful termination, you will need all of this information.

Get Legal Help

You should reach out to an experienced California employment law attorney as soon as possible. Your attorney can review the details regarding your termination to help you determine if you have a valid claim. If so, they can assist in gathering the evidence you need to support it and guide you through every step in this process.
Even if you haven’t yet been terminated but suspect it might be imminent, enlisting an attorney’s expertise can help protect you and/or your job. Remember that there is a deadline known as the statute of limitations that applies to wrongful termination cases in California. Depending on what type of employee you were and the specific circumstances surrounding your job loss, you typically have anywhere between six months and two years to file a claim or a lawsuit.

Were You an At-Will Employee?

An at-will employee is just that. An employee who is employed at the whim and will of the employer. An at-will employee can be terminated for any reason or no reason at all, just as long as the termination was not for an unlawful reason. A knowledgeable attorney can also help you determine if you are an at-will employee. This is crucial in determining if a termination was wrongful.

Under California law, employment is presumed to be an “at-will.” It automatically classifies an employee as an at-will employee unless any of the following applies:

  • The employer and employee previously agreed to specific grounds that would allow the employer to terminate the employee
  • The employment is for a predetermined period of time—for example, six weeks
  • The conduct of both parties infers an understanding that the employee wouldn’t be terminated unless for cause.

Whether the parties’ conduct implies that the employment was not “at-will” depends on several factors. Courts will take into account:

  • The employer’s guidelines, policies, and handbooks
  • How long the employee worked for the employer
  • The employer’s words or actions that assured continued employment

An employer’s behavior can assure that the employment will continue in many ways. For instance, providing the employee with a raise, promotion, and bonus without expressing poor performance on the employee’s part.

Was Your Termination Genuinely Wrongful?

If your employment can be terminated only “for cause,” termination is wrongful if the employer doesn’t have a valid reason for terminating the employee. It’s also wrongful if it violates public policy—for example, in the case of retaliatory firing for whistleblowing. Additionally, employers can’t terminate employees for discrimination or harassment reasons. Last but not least, the employer can’t create a work environment that is so unbearable that it causes an employee to voluntarily quit, known as a “constructive discharge.”

File a Claim or a Lawsuit

Next, you should either file a lawsuit and/or a claim with the appropriate government agency. Your employment law attorney will let you know which is most fitting for the specifics of your case. You may also need to determine if you will file a complaint under California laws or federal laws.

You can find more information on filing a wrongful termination lawsuit with the state of California through The Department of Fair Employment and Housing. The Equal Employment and Opportunity Commission (EEOC) details the steps involved in filing a wrongful termination complaint under federal law. When you hire a seasoned employment attorney, they will know which type of complaint is most appropriate for your situation and how to move successfully through the process.

Considering that each case has its own unique facts, it’s hard to estimate how long a wrongful termination case will take. Claims can also vary depending on if you filed with the state or the federal government.

Were You Wrongfully Terminated?

Does Your Business Need Assistance in Terminating An Employee or Deciding The Best Manner To Legally Terminate An Employee? Call the Experienced Employment Law Attorneys at Steinberg Law Today. At Steinberg Law, we protect the rights of both employers and employees so we are well versed in employment matters from all perspectives. Our experienced employment law attorneys can help you no matter the situation. We are well-versed in federal and California employment law and known for delivering results for our clients. Call our office today to schedule your no-obligation case consultation at (818) 855-1103 or contact us online.

Author: kevensteinberg