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Understanding Wrongful Termination: Your Rights as an Employee

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As an employee in California, the law protects you from retaliatory and discriminatory firing. If you’ve been discharged because of a protected category or for engaging in a protected activity, you have the right to take legal action against your employer. That said, it can be difficult to seek justice without a skilled California wrongful termination lawyer.

At Domb & Rauchwerger, we aim to provide the information and advocacy you need to hold your employer liable and obtain fair compensation. Let’s take a closer look at the laws that protect you from wrongful termination and your rights as an employee.

Wrongful Termination Laws that Protect Your Rights as an Employee

According to the Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA), your employer is prohibited from taking adverse action against you because of your protected category.

Since termination ends your employment, it’s considered an adverse action. Therefore, you have the right to file a claim against your employer if you’ve been fired because of one of the following protected categories:

Gender

If you’ve been fired because of your gender, you’ve been wrongfully terminated and have the right to file a claim for compensation. You may also have grounds for a claim if your employer’s decision to demote you, decrease your pay, or take another adverse action against you was based on your gender identity. 

Race

California law also prohibits your employer from firing you because of your racial, bi-racial, or multi-racial designation. You don’t have to be part of a racial minority to have grounds for a legal claim.

Pacific Islander, Caucasian, American Indian, and African American are just a few of the racial designations that are protected by state employment law. 

Age

If you are over the age of 40 and believe your firing was motivated by your age, a wrongful termination attorney can educate you on your rights as an employee and pursue compensation for your income losses and the other challenges you’ve been forced to endure. 

Color

California law also protects you from adverse actions based on the color of your skin. If you believe you have been fired because of your skin color, an experienced attorney at our firm can help you take legal action against your employer.

National Origin

National origin is another category that is protected by wrongful termination laws. If your employment has been terminated due to your linguistic features, cultural features, country of birth, or your ancestor’s country of birth, you may have grounds for a claim.

Sexual Orientation

No one should face workplace discrimination or wrongful termination because of their sexual orientation. If you’ve been fired or had another adverse action taken against you because of your sexual orientation, state employment law protects your right to file a claim. 

Pregnancy Status

Sadly, pregnant workers often face discrimination due to their pregnancies and even medical conditions caused by their pregnancies. If you’ve been fired due to a pregnancy or pregnancy-related disability, you may be entitled to compensation. An attorney can explain your rights as an employee and file a facts-based wrongful termination claim for you.

Disability or Genetic Information

State law protects employees from termination based on their disabilities and genetic information. If your rights under these laws have been violated, a wrongful termination attorney can help you move forward with a claim.

You Are Also Protected from Retaliatory Termination

California law also gives employees the right to take legal action if they have been terminated for participating in “protected activities.” There are several activities that your employer is prohibited from firing you for engaging in, including the following:

  • Complaining about something your employer did that you believe to be unlawful
  • Refusing your employer’s request to do something illegal
  • Filing a complaint with the California Civil Rights Department, the California Labor Commissioner, or the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) about something your employer did
  • Taking part in a government investigation that involves your employer
  • Taking medical leave that is protected by the law
  • Submitting a request for reasonable accommodation for your physical or mental disability
  • Filing a complaint of unlawful workplace harassment or discrimination to an outside entity or your employer

If your employer has fired you for taking part in one of the above-listed activities, our employee retaliation lawyers can investigate the incident, construct a compelling legal argument, and pursue the compensation you need to move forward with your career and your life. 

Evidence that Can Be Used to Build Your Wrongful Termination Claim

If you are planning on filing a wrongful termination claim, you’ll need solid evidence to back it up. While your attorney can gather and analyze important evidence, you’ll also want to keep records that demonstrate that your termination was likely motivated by either your protected category or protected activities. 

The following pieces of evidence can be used to prove your case:

  • Written and recorded statements made by your manager, supervisor, or another superior employee. Keep in mind however that it is illegal in California to record another person without their express permission. 
  • Emails, workplace memos, texts, and other forms of communication that support your claim.
  • Testimony from co-workers.

Proving Your Wrongful Termination Case

Our lawyers can use the above-mentioned pieces of evidence and other records to show that your firing was motivated by discriminatory or retaliatory intentions. One way our attorneys can do this is by highlighting any statements your employer made that expose their true motivation for firing you.

For example, if your employer made rude comments about your protected category or complained about the protected activity you engaged in, those statements can be used to support your claim. 

Our attorneys may also use timestamped pieces of evidence to show that your firing occurred shortly after your employer became aware of your protected category or the protected activity you participated in. A close proximity between these two events suggests that they are connected and that you weren’t fired for a separate reason. 

Compensation You Could Receive from a Wrongful Termination Claim

Employees in California have the right to pursue several forms of compensation after experiencing wrongful termination. Our skilled attorneys can help you file a strong claim and fight for the following financial remedies:

  • Salary or wages you would have received if your employment wasn’t terminated
  • Future income losses if your employer stops you from getting a new job
  • Emotional distress caused by your unlawful firing
  • Punitive damages

Experiencing retaliatory or discriminatory firing can be financially and emotionally devastating. Fortunately, the above-mentioned financial remedies can help you move past an unlawful discharge with peace of mind and financial stability. 

However, obtaining these forms of compensation can be incredibly difficult without a skilled legal advisor. You’ll want to work with a seasoned attorney to make the most of your claim and receive every last penny you deserve.

Our Wrongful Termination Lawyers Can Protect Your Rights as an Employee

Zack Domb & Devin Rauchwerger are both former partners from one of the largest employment defense firms in the country and represented Fortune 500 employers in wrongful termination, retaliation, and other types of employment claims. Domb & Rauchwerger know how your employer’s attorneys will respond to a claim and can combat their efforts to invalidate your claim.

Contact us today to schedule a free consultation with a California wrongful termination lawyer and get the experienced advocacy you need to file a winning claim. We’ll draw on our invaluable knowledge and resources to get you the outcome you deserve.

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