Was Your Firing Illegal?
If you have been fired from your job illegally in California, is it worth the effort to pursue justice and file a wrongful termination claim with help from a San Francisco wrongful termination attorney? In almost every wrongful termination case, the answer to that question is “yes.”
Legally speaking, what constitutes a wrongful termination in the State of California? What is your recourse after a wrongful termination, and what steps will you need to take? When, for example, should you contact the offices of a San Francisco wrongful termination lawyer?
If you will keep reading this short discussion of wrongful termination and the employment laws in California, you will learn the answers to these questions, and you will also learn more about your employment rights in our state.
What is “At-Will” Employment?
No law compels California employers to be “fair.” If you’ve been fired, it might not be fair, but it may be legal, because employment in California is “at-will.” This means either an employer or an employee may terminate employment at any time, with or without cause or prior notice.
However, in some situations, it is against the law for an employer to fire an employee. California law protects employees from discrimination – including wrongful termination – because of their sex, age, orientation, religion, ethnic heritage, national origin, pregnancy, or disability.
You also may not be fired in retaliation for “whistleblowing” – that is, for reporting an employer’s illegal activity. You can’t be fired for seeking workers’ compensation benefits, for refusing to commit an illegal act, or for taking leave that you are legally entitled to take.
In What Other Situations is a Termination Wrongful?
In California, termination for any of the following reasons is also illegal, wrongful termination:
- taking the time to serve on a jury or taking the time to vote
- refusing to enter a dangerous job site
- refusing to sign a non-compete agreement
Additionally, if you have an employment contract, a San Francisco wrongful termination attorney can determine whether your firing violated the contract’s terms. If you’re a union employee, your contract should clearly specify under what conditions you may be terminated.
How Will an Attorney Help You?
If you think that you may have been wrongly terminated, your first legal consultation with a California employment rights attorney is provided with no cost or obligation. You will receive personalized legal advice, and your lawyer will determine if you qualify to take legal action.
If you were in fact fired illegally, your employment rights attorney will file a wrongful termination claim against the employer on your behalf. Your attorney will then investigate exactly how and why you were fired and will seek to negotiate a settlement with the employer.
You could recover your back wages, be reinstated to your job, and/or receive compensation for your pain, personal suffering, and other damages that were the result of your wrongful termination.
Will Your Wrongful Termination Case Go to Trial?
Most California employers understand the law, and many employers will want to avoid the bad publicity that a wrongful termination trial may generate. Thus, most wrongful termination claims are resolved out-of-court when the attorneys for both sides hammer out a private settlement.
Wrongful termination cases in this state rarely go to trial. However, if your wrongful termination claim is disputed, or if no reasonable settlement offer is forthcoming from the employer in the out-of-court negotiations, your attorney will take your wrongful termination claim to trial.
At a wrongful termination trial, your attorney will explain to a jury how and why you were fired and why that firing was unlawful. Your attorney will then ask the jurors to find in your favor and order the employer to compensate you, and in some cases, reinstate you to your job.
What Else Should You Know About Wrongful Terminations?
It is important to understand that California’s employment laws are exceedingly complicated and that every wrongful termination case is different. If you have been fired illegally, have a San Francisco wrongful termination lawyer explain how the law applies in your own circumstances.
How long do you have to take legal action after a wrongful termination? The answer to that question may be complicated. Depending on the reason for a wrongful termination, the statute of limitations – that is, the deadline for taking legal action – can range from two to four years.
Do not, however, wait for two years or even two weeks after a wrongful termination to schedule a meeting with a California employment rights lawyer. If you believe that you were terminated illegally by a California employer, you should reach out to an attorney as quickly as possible.
What Will It Cost to Seek Justice?
Wrongful termination is a serious matter. If you’ve been fired and you do not land another job immediately, you could soon have difficulty paying your monthly bills, and you could even face a genuine financial hardship. In such a situation, how can you afford to hire an attorney?
When a California employment lawyer handles your wrongful termination case, that lawyer will work for you on a contingent fee basis. This means you will pay nothing for your first legal consultation, and you will owe no attorney’s fee until and unless you are compensated.
If your wrongful termination case goes to trial, and if your claim prevails, the court may order your employer to pay your attorney’s fee along with your back wages and/or reinstatement to your job. But how can you select the right wrongful termination lawyer?
Call the Legal Team at Geonetta & Frucht
California employment attorneys Fred Geonetta and Kenneth Frucht have more than forty years of combined employment law experience. They have recovered substantial verdicts and settlements on behalf of their clients in a wide variety of employment rights cases.
Geonetta & Frucht offers trusted, comprehensive legal advice and services to working people throughout the Bay Area and across northern California. We have established a reputation for legal excellence and for superlative client service. We handle wrongful terminations, wage-and-hour disputes, sexual harassment claims, and any type of case that involves employment rights.
With offices in both Oakland and San Francisco, Geonetta & Frucht is ready to work for you. If you believe you are a victim of wrongful termination – or if you are fired illegally in the future – call Geonetta & Frucht promptly at 415-433-4589 to schedule your first legal consultation.