Being terminated from your job can be one of the most traumatizing experiences in your life. It threatens your livelihood and your dignity as a person. Doug has represented many people in wrongful termination cases and has successfully sued many employers who wrongfully terminated their employees. However, wrongful termination cases can be extremely difficult to actually prove, so you need to consult with an experienced attorney before you proceed. Call the office of Doug Jaffe Law to discuss your case with our Wrongful termination attorney in California.
“At Will” Employment
California is an “at will” employment state, meaning your employer can fire you for any reason at all, or no reason. Exceptions do exist for union or government employees who have contract or other statutory provisions limiting termination to for cause reasons only. Additionally, employers are entitled to the business judgment defense where it is essentially presumption that they acted in good faith, even if it was actually an error or something you felt was unfair.
Discrimination and Retaliation is Prohibited
Although most employees are at will employees and can be fired for any reason, California law does prohibit employers from terminating an employee when the motive was for unlawful discrimination or retaliation. Discrimination is when the motive for the termination was due to the employee’s protected class, i.e. race, nationality, alienage, gender, age, or even disability. Retaliation is when the motive for the termination was because you reported something illegal, or if you filed for workers’ compensation benefits.
Proving Wrongful Termination
Because your employer or supervisor will almost never openly admit an unlawful motive, wrongful termination cases often rest on circumstantial evidence that would prove the employer had a discriminatory or retaliatory motive. For instance, if an employee is injured on the job and files for workers compensation, and then is shortly thereafter terminated by the employer, then this may provide circumstantial evidence that the employer’s motive was retaliatory. Many times the employee’s own testimony is often the only real proof, so the case may stand or fall based on the credibility of what the employee is claiming.
Right to Sue Letter
California law requires that before you can sue your employer in court you must first file a complaint with the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) or the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). You can allow the DFEH or EEOC to investigate the claim. They may seek your employer’s response, and if they believe the case has merit sometimes the DFEH or EEOC may require mediation. You may also forego this investigation and simply request an immediate Right to Sue Letter from them.
Deadline to File
You must file your complaint with the DFEH or EEOC within 1 year of the date you were wrongfully terminated. Please note that you don’t have to wait until you are terminated, demoted, or suspended to file this complaint with the DFEH or EEOC. However, for wrongful terminations, the deadline to file would clearly be within 1 year from the date of termination.
After you file with the DFEH or EEOC and obtain your Right to Sue Letter, then you will have 1 year from that letter date to file your complaint in court.
Some employers require their employees to sign an arbitration agreement as a condition to their employment. If you did sign such an agreement, then the courts will generally uphold the agreement and compel arbitration. Arbitration would require your case to be tried before an arbitrator, which is generally an experienced attorney who is trained in arbitration. You can get help by calling Doug Jaffe Law in Sacramento, CA, and talk to our California wrongful termination attorney.
Mediation is when you and your attorney agree to meet with your employer and their attorney to have a neutral third party mediator negotiate a settlement. Your attorney will represent you before the mediator and advocate your position. Usually you and your attorney will begin by meeting face to face with your employer and his lawyer, then the mediator will have each party go into separate rooms while he comes and speaks with each party in private to try to negotiate a settlement. Doug has been extremely successful in resolving many wrongful termination cases during mediation.
If mediation is not successful, then the case will have to proceed to trial. Trial is a substantial undertaking requiring extensive preparation. Doug will take the case to trial, if necessary. He has been practicing as a California wrongful termination attorney for over 30 years.
As you can see, wrongful termination cases have many hurdles and the rules can be complex. If you believe you have been wrongfully terminated, call attorney Doug Jaffe today for a free consultation. Our Wrongful termination attorney in California provides Free Consultation.
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