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What Should I Do if I’ve Been Wrongfully Terminated?

Book employment law and the gavel on it.

Being let go from your job can be financially distressing and emotionally devastating, but often there’s not a lot you can do about it. California is an “at-will” employment state, meaning employees can be fired at any time, and the employer doesn’t have to have a good reason for the termination or give any reason at all. However, there are times when a termination is “wrongful,” meaning the act of discharge violates some California or federal law. California is very protective of workers, and many reasons for termination are simply not allowed.

Read on to learn more about what constitutes “wrongful termination” in California and what actions you should take if you think you were wrongfully terminated. For advice and assistance related to your specific case, contact Ochoa & Calderón in Riverside to speak with a team of experienced and successful Southern California employment law attorneys.

Understanding Wrongful Termination

Wrongful termination occurs when an employer fires an employee for reasons that violate the law or their employment contract. In California, employment is generally “at-will,” meaning that employers can terminate employees for any reason, as long as it’s not illegal. However, there are exceptions to this rule, and it’s important to recognize them. Some of the leading reasons behind a wrongful termination include:

  • Discrimination: Employers cannot terminate you based on your race, gender, religion, disability, age, sexual orientation, or other characteristics protected under federal laws like Title VII or California laws like FEHA.

  • Retaliation: If you reported workplace harassment, discrimination, or violations of the law, your employer cannot retaliate by firing you. Many state and federal laws include provisions protecting employees from retaliation, including health and safety laws, workers’ compensation, and more.

  • Whistleblowing: If you exposed illegal activities within your company, you cannot be fired on that basis.

  • Breach of Employment Contract: If your employment contract specifies terms and conditions for termination, your employer must follow those terms. For instance, the contract might include a duration clause, it might lay out the grounds for termination, or it might require “cause” or “good cause” for termination.

What to Do if You Think You’ve Been Wrongfully Terminated

  1. Document Everything: If you suspect wrongful termination, start documenting everything related to your employment. This includes emails, performance reviews, communication with supervisors, and any incidents that could support your case. This documentation can be valuable when building your case.

  2. Consult with an Employment Attorney: One of the most critical steps you should take is to seek legal advice from a qualified employment attorney. Ochoa & Calderon practices extensively in California employment law and can provide the expertise you need. An attorney can evaluate your case, explain your rights, and help you understand if you have a valid claim.

  3. File a Complaint: Your attorney may recommend filing a complaint with the relevant government agency, such as the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) or the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). These agencies investigate claims of discrimination and wrongful termination.

  4. Negotiate or Litigate: Depending on the circumstances of your case, your attorney may negotiate with your former employer to reach a settlement or file a lawsuit on your behalf. Litigation is a last resort, but it can be necessary to protect your rights.

  5. Protect Your Reputation: During this challenging time, it’s essential to safeguard your professional reputation. Maintain professionalism in your job search and consider seeking new employment to minimize financial hardship.

Reach Out to Ochoa & Calderón for Help With Wrongful Termination Claims in Southern California

If you believe you’ve been wrongfully terminated in Southern California, you don’t have to face this difficult situation alone. Ochoa & Calderón is here to help you navigate the complex legal landscape of wrongful termination. For personalized advice and assistance, don’t hesitate to contact our Riverside employment law firm for a free consultation and advice on how to proceed. Call 951-901-4444 for help in Riverside or 844-401-0750 toll-free throughout Southern California.

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