It’s strange that more time isn’t dedicated to talking about California’s wrongful termination laws. Considering that the vast majority of California’s adult population is employed by someone other than themselves, there is a chance that a large portion of California’s population could potentially be the victims of wrongful termination.
Wrongful termination refers to an employer either firing or laying off an employee for an illegal reason. Examples of wrongful termination situations in California include:
- Firing for a reason that goes against public policy
- Letting an employee go because they are considered a whistleblower
- Firing an employee for notifying management about the violation of rights under the Fair Employment and Housing Act
- A termination that violates either an actual or an implied contract
Very few wrongful termination cases make it into the criminal justice system, though there are always exceptions. What’s far more likely is that the employer and terminated employee will meet again in California’s Civil Court. If you decide to file a civil lawsuit for wrongful termination against your employer, you need to understand that the burden of proof rests on your shoulders. These cases aren’t easy because most employers will create a plausible excuse for letting you go, it’s up to you to prove the real reason they let you go.
In most successful wrongful termination cases, the plaintiff managed to provide documentation in the form of positive performance reviews, employee/employer email/text transcripts, and testimonials from co-workers that revealed the real reason the employer fired the plaintiff. Since getting copies of this documentation from the employer is virtually impossible employees should always protect themselves by saving everything, even if they think they’re in a positive employee/employer relationship.
When it comes to a wrongful termination case, it’s in your best interest to act as quickly as possible. The first reason for filing the lawsuit as quickly as possible is because it helps keep the situation fresh in the minds of witnesses which makes their testimonies more valuable.
The second reason to act quickly is that there is a statute of limitations on wrongful termination cases. The statute of limitations varies depending on why the wrongful termination happened. For example, if the termination violated an oral contract between the employer and employee, the statute of limitations is 2 years. If the termination was the result of a violation of the Whistleblower under the Sarbanes-Oxley Act a complaint has to be filed with the US Department of Labor within 180 of the termination. If the termination went against the WARN Act, the statute of limitations is a full 3 years.