Defend Your Rights with a Wrongful Termination Lawyer

Did you know that California state and federal law protects you from being fired under unlawful grounds? If you think you’ve been wrongfully terminated from your job, you can take action to seek compensation for your lost wages and suffering. Call Kent | Pincin today to speak with a wrongful termination lawyer in Redondo Beach, CA, about your case.

At Kent | Pincin, we’ve recovered millions in workplace retaliation claims for our clients. Our experienced, knowledgeable attorneys are dedicated to helping you regain your voice in the workplace without fear of wrongful termination. Whether you’ve faced employee discrimination, a contract violation, unlawful punishments, or anything else, our team will use all legal remedies possible to fight for your compensation.

What Are the Grounds for Wrongful Termination?

Many assume that being fired for unfair reasons is grounds for wrongful termination. Like most laws, though, wrongful termination has quite strict grounds. Wrongful termination occurs when an employer fires an individual for specific, unlawful reasons, such as discrimination. 

The primary grounds for wrongful termination include the following:

  • Termination violating implied contracts: Some employment contracts guarantee employment for certain periods of time, meaning termination during that period would be unlawful. 
  • Termination based on discrimination: California state and federal law prohibits employers from terminating individuals based on their race, gender, age, national origin, sexual orientation, disability, pregnancy status, and other protected characteristics. 
  • Termination for retaliation purposes: Employers cannot punish individuals for engaging in protected activity, for instance, practicing basic employment rights, like taking time off for jury duty, filing sexual harassment complaints, or filing for workers’ compensation. The list of retaliation examples covers numerous instances of unlawful discharge.

Quite a few violations fall into the above categories, so you must speak with an employment attorney if you think you’ve been wrongfully terminated.

How To Know If You Have a Wrongful Termination of Labor Case

Wrongful termination can come in many forms, so how can you tell when you have a valid case? First, you can review the basic grounds listed above as well as California state and federal laws protecting workers to understand what rights you have. 

Next, ask yourself the following questions:

  • Did your employer discriminate against you because of your personal characteristics?
  • Did your employer conduct any public policy violations? 
  • Did you get fired for attending jury duty or taking the day off to vote?
  • Did your employer fire you because of an action you took against them?
  • Did you get fired for taking maternity leave?
  • Was defamation involved in your termination?
  • Did your employer violate your contract?
  • Did you refuse to partake in illegal or sexual activities before getting fired?
  • Have you recently filed a workers’ compensation claim?
  • Did you get fired immediately after reporting illegal activities?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, you could have a case. If not, don’t worry, as we only touched the tip of the iceberg here. If you think you were unlawfully fired, contact a wrongful termination lawyer in Redondo Beach today by calling Kent | Pincin at (310) 376-0922.

California Wrongful Termination Laws

A number of state and federal laws protect employees from wrongful termination. While California is an at-will state, it still enacts numerous Labor Codes to prevent employers from firing people for unlawful reasons. To qualify under this protection, you must be an employee in California (not an independent contractor), and you must have been fired for an unlawful reason, as we listed above.

Wrongful Termination for Discriminatory Reasons

One of the primary grounds for wrongful termination is discrimination. If your employer fires you because of your personal characteristics, you may have a wrongful termination case. 

The Americans with Disabilities Act, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, California’s Fair Employment and Housing Act, Title II of the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act of 2008, and the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 cover discriminatory actions in the workplace. Under these laws, employers cannot fire individuals based on their:

  • Age
  • Ethnicity
  • Race
  • Disability
  • Gender
  • Genetic information
  • Pregnancy status
  • Religion
  • National origin
  • Sex
  • Sexual orientation

What Is Constructive Termination?

Constructive termination, also called constructive dismissal, occurs when an employee quits or resigns because their employer created a hostile work environment, essentially forcing them to leave. This loophole often allows the employer to get around wrongful termination claims because the employee resigned, though the employee still ends up losing their job and suffering financial and emotional distress. 

With the right evidence, your wrongful termination lawyer can prove that your resignation was not, in fact, voluntary, meaning you did experience wrongful termination.

The California Supreme Court, as well as other legal bodies, recognize constructive termination, but it can be hard to prove. A few examples of unfair and hostile work practices that could lead to constructive termination include the following:

  • Forcing employees to work the least desirable positions or assignments 
  • Misleading employees about job aspects to trick them into taking poor assignments
  • Preventing employees from collecting payments that are due to them
  • Demoting employees to reduce their pay despite their positive performance
  • Publicly shaming or embarrassing an employee in front of the team
  • Insulting employees or using derogatory and discriminatory terms
  • Verbally, physically, or sexually attacking employees (or threatening to)

Getting Fired, Discharged, or Laid Off vs. Quitting

When your employer fires you, discharges you, or lets you go, they have the power to make that decision. When you quit, you actively decide to leave the position, except for in constructive termination cases. 

In most scenarios, when you quit your job, you will not have a wrongful termination case unless you can prove constructive termination. If your employer forced you to leave by firing you or discharging you, you may have a case, assuming they did so in an unlawful way.

Does “At-Will” Employment Mean My Employer Can Fire Me at Any Time for No Reason?

Yes and no. 

Let’s address the “any time” phrase first. Because California is an at-will employment state, your employer can fire you at any time except for an illegal reason or if you have a contract protecting your employment. If your employer breaches a contract, you may have a wrongful termination case.

You also cannot be fired for engaging in protected activity. For instance, reporting what you believe to be violations of law, regulations, or local rules (municipal codes). Sometimes people refer to this as "whistleblowing". For instance, if you reported that you believed your manager was misappropriating funds, and you were subsequently terminated, you may have a wrongful termination case. Further, reporting or opposing what you believe to be discrimination can also be protected activity. For example, reporting that you believe your manager is discriminating against you on the basis of your race, gender, sexual orientation, or other protected characteristic.

Additionally, protected activity can include taking protected leaves of absence. For example, your employer cannot fire you for attending military service or taking maternity leave. So, in many ways, your employer can fire you at any time, as long as it’s during one of your protected periods.

Now, moving on to the “for no reason” question. Employers can fire anyone they want for any reason they please in at-will states (including bad reasons, mistaken reason, or foolish reasons), like California, assuming they don’t violate a statute, regulation, or law, or contractual clause. Whether the “legitimate” reason the employer informs is in fact legitimate, often requires a fact intensive analysis, which you should consult an attorney for.

Can You Be Fired Without Warning in California?

Yes, you can be fired without warning in California. Because California is an at-will state, your employer may fire you without providing any notice as long as they do not have unlawful motives. 

Sudden termination can feel quite unfair, though unfair does not mean unlawful. If you think your sudden termination had unlawful motives, you should contact a wrongful termination lawyer from Kent | Pincin to discuss your case.

What Is the Burden of Proof for Wrongful Termination in California?

The burden of proof for wrongful termination in California rests on you, as the employee, and your legal team. You will need to prove that your employer violated a specific public policy, state law, or federal law. 

For example, say you were fired immediately after leaving work to go to a doctors appoint, using your accrued sick, and despite having given your employer ample notice, you may have a claim under the California Labor Code, or potentially the Fair Employment and Housing Act.  

Several laws protect you from being fired illegally, like the California Family Rights Act (CFRA), the New Parent Leave Act (NPLA), and more. Your experienced attorney can listen to your case and help you determine how to prove the unlawful actions in court.

If I Reported My Employer for Illegal Activity in the Workplace and Was Quickly Fired, Do I Have Grounds for a Wrongful Termination Claim?

Yes, if you reported your employer for something illegal and were immediately terminated, you may have experienced retaliation. Retaliation is grounds for a wrongful termination case. Your employer cannot fire you for exercising your legal rights, which include reporting illegal activities or refusing to participate in them.

If you notice something suspicious in the workplace, you shouldn’t feel afraid to report it for fear of being fired. Our team at Kent | Pincin will have your back.

How Long Should I Wait Before Hiring a Wrongful Termination Attorney in Los Angeles, CA?

If you believe you’ve been fired on unlawful grounds, you should hire a wrongful termination attorney in Los Angeles, CA, as soon as possible to begin developing your case. There are various administrative and pre-filing deadlines that may need to be complied with.

Beyond this, the statute of limitations for filing a wrongful termination case in California is two years from the date of termination, so you must begin consulting an attorney immediately. 

Your attorney can help you make vital decisions that will impact the success of your case, like determining whether or not you should accept severance. Your severance package may prevent you from suing your employer and accessing unemployment benefits. Your employer may urge you to accept severance packages to avoid litigation, though you should consult your attorney before agreeing to anything. 

After hiring your experienced attorney, be sure to keep documentation of everything to make the process as easy as possible. Everything from pay stubs and W-2 forms to company emails may become court evidence.

Will I Qualify for Unemployment Benefits?

You may be able to qualify for unemployment benefits after being wrongfully terminated, depending on the terms of your firing and a few other details. If your employer fired you for misconduct, for example, you may not qualify, though many other conditions apply. Unemployment benefits can help replace your lost income during the litigation period.

Caring for our Clients

Let Kent | Pincin Help You With Your Wrongful Termination Claim

As an employee, you have rights under California state and federal law. If you think you’ve been fired for unlawful reasons, let us represent your case so you can get the compensation you need to get back on your feet. Contact Kent | Pincin today at (310) 376-0922 to discuss your case with an experienced wrongful termination lawyer in Redondo Beach, CA.

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