With the cost of living increasing, especially in Los Angeles, the last thing anyone wants to hear is, “You’re fired.” For the most part, California law notes that unless otherwise specified in a contract, employees are employed at will, and either the employer or employee may terminate employment at any time without cause. However, there are state and federal laws that outline certain reasons why you may not be terminated. In those instances, you would be considered to be wrongfully terminated.
California and federal employment laws are enforced by different courts in the Los Angeles area, and there may be different agencies that can assist with a wrongful termination claim. You will generally best be served by making sure you seek the help of Los Angeles wrongful termination lawyers who will know how to prove your claim and help you recover all available compensation in your case.
Contact a Los Angeles Wrongful Termination Attorney
If you were recently fired from your job in the greater Los Angeles area for reasons that you believe violate the law, it would be incredibly important for you to retain legal counsel without delay. Arshakyan Law Firm handles many different kinds of employment law cases in California, including wrongful termination claims.
Our firm will know what you need to do to prove your claim in a court of law and can assist you in making sure your employer is held accountable for an improper firing. We invite you to call (888) 851-5005 or contact us online today to take advantage of a no-obligation case consultation.
Types of Wrongful Termination
The first thing to understand about many jobs in California is that a majority are considered “at-will” employment, meaning that an employer is generally permitted to fire an employee at any time for any reason or even no reason at all. That said, the reasons for an employer firing an employee cannot violate state or federal laws.
Exceptions to at-will employment include individuals who had contracts with their employers. In these cases, contracts typically stipulate specific durations of employment, and firings may be violations of the contracts.
You may have also had what is known as an implied contract, which means a legally-binding obligation stemming from actions, conduct, or circumstances of one or more parties to an agreement that carries the same legal force as an express contract. An implied contract, however, is much more difficult to prove legally than an express contract.
Contract violations usually lead to a breach of contract claims, but employers in these situations typically argue termination was justified because an employee did not perform as the parties had agreed to. You may be able to overcome such an argument by proving that such a justification is just a pretext and you satisfactorily performed your duties under the contract, and furthermore, the employer had another motive for the termination, such as a company struggling to do well financially.
In general, some of the most common examples of wrongful termination at an at-will employment setting include but are not limited to the following:
- The firing was because of your age, race, religion, sexual orientation, gender, and/or disability;
- The firing was because you refused to engage in sexual activities or favors;
- The firing was because you participated in a legally protected activity (further discussed below);
- The firing was because you filed for a worker’s compensation claim;
- The firing was because a family member participated in a legally protected activity or filed for a worker’s compensation claim; and/or
- The firing was because you complained of illegal activity performed by your employer and/or failed to participate in illegal activity.
Sometimes the reasons are not very blatant, and your employer will not tell you the real reason for the termination. To assess whether the real reason for the termination was due to any of the above, we may need to look into circumstantial evidence. Some forms of circumstantial evidence includes:
- Evidence that other workers outside of your protected class received preferential treatment
- Prior discriminatory comments by an owner or supervisor
- Evidence of discrimination against fellow co-workers in the same protected category
- Questionable timing of firing decisions, such as you being fired shortly after you report an injury
- Evidence that your employer violated their own company policy and procedures in your termination, such as your policy requiring warnings or investigations before termination and this requirement not being fulfilled
- Statistical evidence demonstrating a company’s older employees were terminated more often than younger employees
You should also be aware that many state and federal laws encourage people to report wrongdoing by employers, and the same laws protect those employees who do file such reports so they are not retaliated against. That said, many employers still fire employees for retaliatory reasons and this too can constitute wrongful termination.
Examples of retaliatory conduct include, but are not limited to:
- You filing a complaint or reporting unsafe working conditions
- You filing a complaint about or reporting discrimination
- You reporting a company violation of any law to an outside agency or to someone within the company
- You filing a complaint about or reporting sexual harassment or other types of harassment
- You refusing an order to engage in illegal activity or do something that would violate a law
- You requesting benefits to which you are entitled, such as overtime pay or medical leave
- You filing a complaint about labor code violations
Wrongful Termination Damages
When a person is wrongfully terminated from a position in Los Angeles, they could be awarded financial compensation that is commonly referred to as damages. Types of damages in wrongful termination cases often include, but are not limited to:
- Lost wages
- Lost benefits
- Pain and suffering
- Emotional distress
- Attorney’s fees
The list above represents a combination of what is known as economic and noneconomic damages. The former refers to damages that can be proven and calculated to a specific dollar amount, while the latter is much more subjective and generally left to the interpretation of a jury.
There is also another kind of damages that could come into play in a wrongful termination case, and that concerns punitive damages, which the California Civil Code refers to as exemplary damages. Punitive damages are generally quite rare, but they are additional awards intended to specifically punish a party for particularly egregious forms of misconduct.
The larger purpose of a punitive damage award is not to enrich a plaintiff. Instead, they are intended to also prevent other parties from partaking in the same conduct in the future.
Steps To Take After A Wrongful Termination
You can often be completely lost shortly after losing your job, and it can be disorienting trying to determine the best steps to take. Here are some general guidelines on the most appropriate actions to take immediately after your firing:
- Keep Timing in Mind. Most people only have 21 days from the date of their firing to consider any severance packages an employer may have offered. There will also be only seven days to change your mind. When you think you were fired for discrimination, you are able to seek advice from a United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) counselor for 45 days from the date that the discrimination occurred. Filing a charge or complaint with the EEOC must be done within 180 calendar days.
- Keep Documentation. You will want to keep a personal record of everything that occurred prior to and after your firing. This means writing down every incident or event demonstrating harassment or discrimination. Make sure to record specific dates and times. It also helps to write down the names of any other parties present at the time of these events.
- Stay Off Social Media. You should never share anything about your case on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or any other social media website. Attorneys for your employer are going to immediately scour your social media accounts to try and recover any kind of post that could be damaging to your claim. This tactic is completely permissible, so it can be in your best interest to temporarily deactivate the accounts entirely until your case is resolved.
- Get Legal Representation. Considering the time constraints and other factors, you should not hesitate to quickly consult with a skilled attorney for assistance in making sure that everything that needs to be done is actually taken care of.
Los Angeles Wrongful Termination Lawyer
Were you wrongfully fired in Los Angeles or another part of California? Arshakyan Law Firm will be able to fight to make sure that you can recover everything from your employer that you are entitled to.
Our firm handles scores of employment law cases and knows how to get results. We can discuss all of the specifics surrounding your case when you call (888) 851-5005 or contact us online for a free consultation.