In California, if you are terminated for an unlawful reason, you may be entitled to recover damages. The lawyers of the Dolan Law Firm have recovered millions for clients who have been unlawfully terminated or retaliated against. We fight hard for those who have been fired for:
- Race, sex, national origin, disability, sexual orientation, religion or some other protected classification
- Opposition to some unlawful activity
- Demanding overtime, rest breaks or lunch breaks
- Requesting an accommodation
- Taking pregnancy leave
- Taking family and/or medical leave
- Refusal to enter an unsafe workplace
- Political affiliation or taking time to vote
- Marital or family status
- Refusing to sign an unlawful noncompete clause
- Serving jury duty
Our San Francisco attorneys have handled hundreds of wrongful termination cases, recovering millions for our clients. Lead trial lawyer Christopher Dolan won a $750,000 settlement for an African-American female who was harassed and fired. Chris Dolan and his colleagues also won a $500,000 settlement for a male field worker who was fired for protesting the sexual harassment of his female co-workers. (Visit our verdicts and settlements page to read about other cases handled by Chris Dolan and his team of lawyers.)
California Wrongful Termination Law
In California, most employment relationships are “at will.” At will employment means that the employer and/or employee may terminate the employment relationship for any reason, with or without cause. The exception, as stated above, is when there is some unlawful motivation or retaliatory reason for the termination. Basically, employers can be jerks without being sued — it is only when the conduct violates the law or a contract between the employer and the employee that there is liability.
If an employment contract has a specified term (number of years, etc.) or certain conditions that are to be met and that contract is breached, i.e., the person is fired before the specified term or the conditions are not met, this, too, may give rise to a claim of wrongful termination.
Another form of wrongful termination is called “constructive wrongful termination.” This is when the employee is not fired, but quits because the conditions are so horrible that he or she is effectively forced out or left with no option. The law states that if conditions or treatment is so severe that a reasonable person could not continue working in the environment any longer, then a person may quit and seek damages for their lost wages.
However, case law recognizes that employees can’t merely quit and sue after a simple incident of harassment or because some condition is less than perfect. Employees are expected to use any available reporting mechanism to attempt to resolve their employment issues before quitting. Failure to try and remedy the situation before quitting may prevent an employee from going forward with a lawsuit. If an employee has complained and/or requested relief and nothing changes, or it gets worse, an employee may quit and seek compensation for lost wages. All complaints and efforts to get relief from the conduct should be well-documented.
People who have suffered unlawful conduct in California in violation of their rights under the Fair Employment and Housing Act (such as discrimination or harassment based on membership in a protected classification) must file a complaint with the Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) generally within one year of the conduct (there are limited exceptions) or they may lose their right to pursue legal action.
Contact Our Lawyers
There are limited time periods within which you may bring a claim for wrongful termination. For general information on these time frames, visit our statutes of limitation page. Contact the lawyers of the Dolan Law Firm for a free evaluation of your case.