California is an at-will state when it comes to employment, which means, generally, your employer can fire you at any time, for any reason. However, there are certain situations where you may have a claim for wrongful termination.
What is and is not wrongful termination
If your employer fires you in violation of a contract, breaks a specific law by firing you or fires you in violation of public policy, you might have a claim for wrongful termination.
You most likely cannot sue for wrongful termination if you are fired for reasons such as a bad relationship with your boss or co-workers, a negative working environment or simply because something is “unfair.”
Before you file a wrongful termination claim, it is important to know what a wrongful termination claim involves and what you can potentially expect to receive from a successful claim.
Lost and future wages
Once you prove you were the victim of wrongful termination, you can expect to receive damages in the form of compensation. This typically involves a sum of money covering lost wages and lost benefits.
You could be awarded a cost for future wages, but you must prove that you have tried to apply for other jobs and did not get them because of the wrongful termination on your record. You should continue to look for a new job while your wrongful termination lawsuit is pending.
The amount of compensation you are awarded could be lowered if your employer provides evidence that you are not looking for a new job.
In addition to these damages, you could receive compensation for emotional distress. Setting an amount for this is rather difficult, because it can be hard to determine a precise number.
Evidence showing that you had to seek mental health treatment or therapy because of the experience, and the cost of that, is a factor that can be considered in setting a damage amount.
Court costs and attorney fees
Both employees and employers should think about the overall costs of litigating a wrongful termination claim. Both sides must usually pay attorney fees, although the losing party often must cover the winning party’s fees. There are also court costs and fees involved.
Sometimes a wrongful termination claim can be resolved without the need for a lawsuit. Employment attorneys can provide advice on the best way to go about resolving your situation.