Navigating the Complexity of a Wrongful Termination

Losing your job is always stressful. However, if you believe you were wrongfully terminated, a host of other problems generally follow as well. Leaving on bad terms makes it difficult to find work in the future as you may be fighting retaliation or have been ‘blacklisted’ from your field. Meanwhile, your bills continue to pile up. As the number one wrongful termination lawyer, our professionals at Hershey Law can help alleviate the stress.


California law on wrongful termination

Under federal law, employers can not legally fire employees due to gender, race, the nation of origin, religion, disability, or age. Further, states can increase these laws with additional layers of protection. California law states that a wrongful termination has occurred when an employer violates any federal law, additional state statutes, the employment contract, public policy, or other applicable laws. The state laws determine the difference between a legal termination and a violation of any of these laws.

Working in California, you are most likely considered an ‘at-will employee. As an ‘at-will,’ your employer doesn’t need to have a good reason to terminate your job. Unfortunately, they can do so for nearly any reason, at any time, without notice. This doesn’t make your termination an intelligent decision, but it is not illegal.


That said, some actions cross the line.


  • Protected factors such as race, gender, disability, etc.
  • Use of legally entitled requests for time off
  • Political opinions and affiliations
  • Reporting company or employer violations
  • Any reason that conflicts with a signed contract at the time of employment
  • Reasons that violate public policy


Contractual agreements can be voided, however. If it is determined that an employee willfully, habitually, or neglectfully breaches their duties or is unable to perform the said job description.


Important Guidelines If You’re Considering Filing a Wrongful Termination Claim

If you do decide that your situation falls into one of the categories that define ‘wrongful termination,’ then you need to know some important facts about filing a lawsuit.

Wrongful terminations, as well as most other claims, must abide by a strict statute of limitations. However, this type of case has multiple variables that a seasoned wrongful termination lawyer will address. Each element impacts the time limit, including the type of claim you are filing and the jurisdiction and agency you file.

For most of California’s wrongful termination claims, the agency involved is the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH). Suppose the claim violates FEHA and the statute of limitations for filing your claim is one year from the date of your termination. In that case, DFEH will investigate and determine if you can move forward by issuing a Right to Sue notice. It is possible to skip the DFEH investigation process and go straight to a lawsuit after you have obtained a Right to Sue notice. Your experienced wrongful termination lawyer can advise you of the pros and cons of this scenario.


Other cases require filing with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. This agency is the go-to for cases filed under federal law, usually for discrimination. The time limit to file with the EEOC is 80 days after termination, but California extends this limit to 300 days. Again, the EEOC will investigate the claim and determine if a Right to Sue notice is applicable.


Collecting a severance package.

Often, wrongful termination goes hand in hand with the offer of a severance package. Be warned. This temptation comes at a price.

Employers know when their actions were underhanded or illegal and may attempt to buy your compliance through a carefully crafted severance package. Desperate employees may think they don’t have any other option – especially when living paycheck to paycheck. However, the benefits generally require signing a contract stating that you will not look for further compensation beyond the offered package. Before signing, contact the team at Hershey Law.


product liability lawyer

Possible benefits of filing a wrongful termination claim

There is no sure way of knowing how much your wrongful termination case will be worth. Every case is different, and the losses you have incurred will determine your possible awards. Lost wages and benefits, emotional distress, court costs, and more will be considered before your damages are determined.

The average settlement for these types of cases usually ranges between $5,000 and $50,000, so don’t settle for the low end when a wrongful termination lawyer can get you much more. Serious violations could be worth even more, but without hiring an employment lawyer, you may not realize the importance of your situation. Below is an outline of a few potential types of compensation you could receive:

  • Lost wages and any future earnings you should have received.
  • Compensation for benefits missed such as insurance, vacation time, and bonuses.
  • Financial compensation for overtime and promotion you lost out on.
  • Costs incurred by you as you attempted to find another job.
  • Possible reinstatement of your terminated position.
  • Medical expenses due to your job loss, including mental care.
  • Any other punitive damages as determined as necessary to punish the employer for their actions in violating federal labor laws.


In some cases, the court may demand that your employer reinstate your position, in addition to the benefits, you would have been entitled to – like a raise or promotion. If this occurs, the choice to return is yours, and you would be legally protected from retaliation.

If the employer and employee are amenable to a settlement that offers something comparable, your wrongful termination lawyer can also negotiate those details.


Should you settle?

Unless your specific circumstances demand a trial, you may be given the opportunity to accept a settlement during the lawsuit. Settlements are the outcome for a majority of wrongful termination suits. Often, employers would rather settle out of court than be slapped with the label and stigma that comes with being accused of wrongful termination. This is especially true when the accusation has to do with discrimination or other highly protected rights.


By working with a wrongful termination lawyer, you can have peace of mind that your best interests are first. At Hershey Law, we have the expertise to apply to your unique situation and help you decide the next steps. Before you sign anything, move ahead by yourself, or give up the fight, contact Hershey Law Office today to schedule your free consultation (310) 929-2190.