Although many California employees are classified as at-will employees, there’s still a chance an employee was fired illegally. California labor law protects employees from being discriminated against or being treated unfairly. To be able to figure out if you’ve been wrongfully terminated from your work, you’ll first need to learn the basics of California labor law.

What is an at-will employee?

At-will employees are described as employees who are able to leave or quit their job whenever they please. Employers may also terminate or lay off employees for little to no reason at all. Most employees in California are at-will employees, as they aren’t CEOs or executives of companies, or do not have time limits on how long they’re supposed to stay in their position. The most common thought employees have is that if they work hard and do everything their boss asks, there’s no way an employee can be fired. Sadly this is not true, as at-will employees are basically at the hand of their employers. The law states that employees who are classified at-will could be fired for simply annoying their boss, or if the boss just doesn’t want you there. As long as their motives were not discriminatory or illegal, the employer has every right to do this.

How could I know if I was wrongfully terminated?

California labor law clearly defines what is illegal for an employer to do and what is not. Employers do not have unlimited power to do whatever they please to employees. Employers and managers must stick to what they have stated and written down in their employee contract, meaning they must treat all employees with respect and fairness. Labor law bars employers from firing an employee for:

-Unfair work hours
-Unsafe work environment

The Civil Rights Act of 1964 protects all employees based on discrimination against their sex, gender identity, ethnicity, religion, or race. This bars an employer from taking action against an African-American employee just because they don’t like them. Likewise, employers are not allowed to change an employee’s work hours to terrible times or to no times at all, to create a hostile work environment to try to get the employee to quit. Employers are to create a work environment where people can do their work in peace, and if an employer is stepping onto those rights, they could be sued.

How much could I make from a wrongful termination claim?

To get started with a wrongful termination suit, you’ll first need to get in contact with an attorney. Proving wrongful termination in court is hard, especially with no physical evidence. Your attorney would gather all the facts about the employer, the business, your work hours, and every other piece of evidence they may use. The amount of compensation an employee could gain is based on how they were harassed or discriminated against at work, and how they were wrongfully terminated. An employee could be eligible to gain:

-Loss of wages
-Pain and suffering
-Lost benefits
-Punitive damages

More serious crimes like sexual harassment or discrimination would result in larger damages recovered by the employee.


Q: What is the statute of limitations for wrongful termination claims?

A: The statute of limitations is 180 days to be filed after being fired to report to the EEOC. If the claim is being filed under the Fair Employment and Housing Act, the lawsuit must be filed within 1 year of termination.

Q: What evidence do I need to gather?

A: If there is any physical or written evidence, bring that to your attorney. Your attorney would go over how long you’ve worked there, if you signed a contract, what that contract states, how the employer has been treating you vs. the other employees, work hours, any emails, and any statements. All these pieces would be brought together to be looked at and assessed to be able to find if there is a viable case or not.

Contact Pride Legal

If you or a loved one has been wrongfully terminated at work, we invite you to contact us at Pride Legal for legal counseling or any further questions. To protect your rights, hire someone who understands them.