Losing your job is a traumatic experience, which brings with it financial and emotional uncertainty. You may feel angry, embarrassed and shocked that you have been fired, especially if you believe you were fired unfairly. Being terminated from your position is painful enough, but if you feel that you were fired for an illegal reason, you may be wondering if you have a case for wrongful termination.
What is Wrongful Termination
“Wrongful termination” is clearly defined by the law and certain conditions must be met in order to bring a claim in court. It is important to note that being fired unfairly does not necessarily constitute a legitimate legal claim for wrongful termination. In order to bring a claim against your former employer for wrongful termination, you must have been fired for an illegal reason such as the following:
Termination due to discrimination or harassment based on a protected characteristic
These characteristics include ethnicity, national origin, religion, gender, pregnancy, age, disability, genetic information, etc.
Violation of Public Policy
Many states allow wrongful termination claims when an employee has been fired for voting, participating in jury duty, filing a worker’s compensation claim, or requiring an employee to lie under oath or break the law.
Written Employment Contracts
These legally binding contracts are the basis for a wrongful termination suit if they have been violated by the employer.
Covenant of Good Faith
If an employer terminates an employee seemingly to avoid paying out a pension, that may be a basis for a wrongful termination claim. For example, if an employee has worked at the same company for 30 years and is terminated a few days before their retirement, this termination may be a violation of the good faith of the relationship between the employee and the employer.
Implied Contract of Employment
If an employer has policies in place that would reasonably lead an employee to believe that their employer would not fire them “at-will” but rather would only fire them for cause, this may constitute an implied contract of employment. A typical example of an implied contract wrongful termination claim is a termination that directly violates something from an employee handbook, which articulates an employee’s rights and duties. If an employee is fulfilling their duties and is fired without cause, they may potentially have a claim for wrongful termination.
Valuing a Wrongful Termination Settlement
Many factors are involved in valuation of a wrongful termination claim. The total value of damages may include lost wages, compensation for emotional distress, punitive damages, attorney and court fees, front pay (the amount of money you would have made until finding a new job), and compensatory damages.
Additionally, it is important to note that there is a clear connection between damages and compensation. If you are able to quickly find a new job for a greater salary, you may have a difficult time obtaining compensation for your claim from a court of law.
When Should I Accept a Wrongful Termination Settlement in California?
You should only accept a settlement from your employer of your wrongful termination claim if the offer is a fair reflection of the damages you suffered as a result of their actions.
Individuals who are represented by an attorney enter into settlements that are 150 percent higher on average than those who pursue wrongful termination claims on their own. You should not agree to a settlement with your employer until you consult with an experienced employment attorney to review their offer.
Have an Experienced Advocate on Your Side
Unfortunately, wrongful terminations occur quite commonly. You typically only have 180 days to act after you have been wrongfully terminated, so you should consult an attorney right away.
Wrongful termination cases can be challenging and difficult to prove. The team at Perkins Asbill can step in quickly to protect your rights against wrongful termination and help you to negotiate a fair settlement agreement. Contact our office in Sacramento at (916) 520-1417 today to schedule a consultation.