5 Common Questions About Wrongful Termination

Are you in the process of filing an employment claim in California? Read these 5 common questions about wrongful termination, then call us.

1) What Should I Do if I Was Wrongfully Terminated?

5 Common Questions About Wrongful TerminationIt’s important to note that in California law, it is unlawful to wrongfully terminate somebody for an unlawful reason. Sometimes terminations are just unfair. Sometimes, you work for a supervisor that is unkind, arbitrary, irrational, and they terminate you. Not every time that you get terminated, despite how wrongful it felt or how wrongful it truly was, is it necessarily unlawful.

We spend a lot of the time identifying those claims in which the termination actually violated California law or federal law. If we can identify a statute or statutes that were violated, then we’re able to articulate that the termination was actually wrongful and we’ll bring a claim called wrongful termination and violation of public policy. That claim is usually brought with the various other claims under California Labor Code. Those include the Fair Employment Housing Act, if you got terminated as a result of a protected class or conduct, or were subject to harassment based on gender, race, or disability.

Not all terminations in California allow you to bring a lawsuit. Not even all wrongful terminations allow you to bring a lawsuit. It’s really important for you to have an attorney that can sit you down and identify whether or not your termination was unlawful.

2) Can I Sue an Employer for Wrongful Termination?

There’s a lot of statues in California that protect employees. Those statutes prohibit an employer from retaliating against employees and discriminating against employees, so it’s important to realize that you do have a lot of protections.

Sometimes you need to figure out whether or not something is just wrong or unfair , or whether it was unlawful. Even if, as you sit there right now, you think, well, I don’t know if it was unlawful, it’s important for you to get those questions answered, because you very well could have rights that you never contemplated. They could have violated that law.

3) Can I Collect Unemployment Benefits if I Was Fired?

In California, the standard as to whether or not you can file for unemployment benefits is actually a pretty employee-friendly standard that relates to whether or not you engaged in misconduct while at work. That standard is going to be read rather narrowly. Just because you got terminated from your employment, doesn’t mean that you’re not entitled to unemployment benefits.

If you’ve been terminated, especially if you’ve been terminated for what you believe is an unlawful conduct, it’s important for you to still apply for unemployment. We would encourage you, if you file for unemployment, to talk to an attorney before you do that. If you already had and there’s an interview coming up, and they want to interview as to the reasons for your termination, you at least have the advice of counsel as to what you may focus in on or not focus in on. The fact that they tell you this is the reason that you’re being terminated isn’t necessarily the reason that you believe that you were terminated.

4) Should I Look for Another Job During a Wrongful Termination Case?

We encourage people to file for unemployment. The fact that your employer has terminated you doesn’t mean you’re not entitled to unemployment. In fact, if you were wrongfully terminated, the employer shouldn’t be able to wrongfully terminate and claim that you’re not entitled to unemployment.

After you file for unemployment, the next step is to start looking for work, assuming you’re able to look for work. If they’re terminating you while you’re out on medical leave, continue with your medical care. Take care of yourself. Get healthy. Once you’re healthy enough to work, or if you were never out because of medical issues, start looking for work. The law expects you to find comparable work. Comparable work is work that’s similar in wage, similar in benefits, and similar in location. While you theoretically don’t have to take any job that comes along, most of my clients want to work, they need to work, and they’ll look for work. While your case is pending, look for work and document that work that you did.

If you are able to find work and it’s not perfect, it pays less or the benefits are less, those are one of the remedies that we’ll seek – at your old job, you made X; now you make a little bit less. Your old job had health benefits and this new job doesn’t. It took you six months to find a job that was comparable. For those six months, you’re entitled to that compensation to make you whole.

If you get wrongfully terminated, the expectation that you do go find comparable work, to the degree that comparable work isn’t comparable, we’ll find an attorney that will fight for you. Hopefully you can find a better job, one that pays better, has better benefits, so that could be at least one bright issue after being terminated from a job that you didn’t want to be terminated from.

5) What are the Available Damages in a Wrongful Termination Case?

In a wrongful termination case, those damages are typically characterized in these categories. One, emotional distress. What was the emotional distress of losing the job? What impact did it have on your daily life, your monthly life? The sleepless nights, the anger, the frustration, the self-doubt – all of those issues are part of your emotional distress, and we ask a jury to compensate you for that. It’s not exactly clear as to what that is, but we do ask the jury to put a dollar figure on that. That includes both past emotional distress, and we also ask them about future emotional distress. The impact that the termination had on you or will have on you in the future is called future emotional distress.

In the same way that we ask for emotional distress, we also ask for back wages and front wages. This economic award basically says that you used to make X, and now you make Y, and that the difference is what you’re entitled to. You used to have healthcare or health insurance, you used to have vacation, you used to have all these other benefits that you no longer have. Maybe by the grace of God, you found a new position that pays better, but it took you six months to find that job. You’re entitled to that wage loss of those six months. Again, you’re entitled to that emotional distress for not having that job for the six months and the uncertainty that caused.

Depending on the type of employer, we also seek punitive damages, an award to punish the employer to make sure that they don’t do that again. Lastly, if we’re successful at trial, we’ll also bring a motion for attorneys’ fees and costs, basically saying that you shouldn’t have to pay for attorneys’ fees and costs, that that should be borne by the employer. If you’ve been wrongfully terminated and you want to have a conversation as to what damages are available if you bring a lawsuit, I’m always happy to discuss those issues with you.


Are you or a loved one in the process of filing an employment claim in California and have questions? After reading these 5 common questions about wrongful termination, contact our experienced California employment law attorneys at the Myers Law Group today for a free consultation and case evaluation.

We can help get your life back on track.

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