Glendale Wrongful Termination Attorney

Were You Fired for an Illegal Reason? Glendale Wrongful Termination Attorney

In California, employers have the right to terminate employees based on business needs, but they do not have the right to violate a worker’s civil rights. Suppose you were terminated and believe it was due to discrimination, filing a disability or injury claim, reporting a safety violation to OSHA, or blowing the whistle on your employer’s illegal activities. In that case, you might have a wrongful termination claim.

At the Law Offices of Eric A. Boyajian, APC, Employment Lawyer, in Glendale, California, our attorneys aggressively fight on behalf of workers who lost their jobs when their employer retaliated or discriminated against them.

In California, employment is considered “at will” unless there is an employment contract stating otherwise.  At will employment means that the employer or the employee can terminate the employment relationship without notice, at any time, for no reason or for any reason, unless the reason is illegal.

Do I have a wrongful termination case?

Yes, if you were fired in breach of your employment contract (e.g., before the term of the contract expired), or for an illegal reason. 

When is it illegal to fire an employee in California?

In California, the termination was probably illegal (some exception apply) if the termination was motivated by the following characteristic:

race, color, national origin, ancestry, citizenship, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity/expression, pregnancy, childbirth or related medical conditions, marital status, sexual orientation, age (over 40), physical disability, mental disability, medical condition, genetic characteristic or information, military and veteran status, reproductive health decisionmaking, and the use of cannabis off the job and away from the workplace.

These categories are called protected characteristics.  They are protected by California’s Fair and Equal Housing Act (“FEHA”), codified in section 12940 of California’s Government Code, which can be found here:

Additionally, the termination was probably illegal (some exceptions apply) if the termination was retaliatory; i.e., in response to something that you did which is considered protected in California. 

What are protected activities in California?

Here are some examples of protected activities in California:

  • Requesting an accommodation for a disability.
  • You were fired for reporting, or complaining about, something which you believed was illegal.  You can read about this in section 1102.5(b) of California’s Labor Code, which can be found here:
  • You were fired for refusing to do something which is illegal.  You can read about this in section 1102.5(c) of California’s Labor Code, which can be found here:
  • You were fired for taking, or requesting, a leave of absence to which you are entitled, such as:
    • Sick time off, which is protected under California’s Healthy Workplaces, Healthy Families Act of 2014, which is codified in California’s Labor Code, sections 245-249, which you can find here:
    • Medical leave protected under the California Family Rights Act, (1) for the  employee’s serious health condition; (2) to care for child, parent, spouse, grandparent, grandchild, sibling, domestic partner, a parent-in-law, or designated person who has a serious health condition; or (3) for the birth or adoption of employee’s child or the placement of the foster child with the employee.  The CFRA is contained within FEHA, in section 12945.2 of California’s Government Code, which can be found here:
    • If an employee is disabled by pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions, then she is eligible for pregnancy disability leave under The California Pregnancy Disability Leave Law (“PDL”), which allows you to take a leave of absence for a reasonable period of time while actually disabled, up to a maximum of four months per pregnancy.  The PDL is found in section 12945(a) of the California Government Code, which can be found here:
    • For Jury Duty, Voting, Witness Testimony
    • Domestic Violence, Sexual Assault, and Stalking
    • Being a victim of a serious crime
    • Military service
    • School visitations for a suspended child
    • Certain school activities of your child
    • Service as a volunteer first responder
    • Alcohol and drug rehabilitation
    • Service in California’s Civil Air Patrol
    • Bereavement Leave
    • Leave following a reproductive loss event (a failed adoption, failed surrogacy, miscarriage, stillbirth, or an unsuccessful assisted reproduction)

What kind of evidence do I need for my wrongful termination case?

The best evidence comes from eyewitnesses who heard the employer / supervisor / decision-maker make comments that support the illegal reason, or who has an email or social media post exposing illegal bias.  But that is very rare, and employers rarely admit they had any illegal motives.  Instead, employers often refer to lawful reasons for the termination, to cover up the illegal reason, such as:  layoff, downsizing, eliminated the position, performance, excessive absence, tardiness, etc.  Fortunately, many other forms of evidence can be used to show that the termination was illegally motivated, such as:

  • Previous discriminatory comments
  • Timing (i.e., being fired shortly after reporting an injury, pregnancy, etc.)
  • Me-Too Evidence (other co-workers experienced the same thing)
  • Preferential treatment by employees that do not share your protected characteristic or activity
  • Statistical evidence (i.e., 10 people were laid off, and they were all over 40 years old)
  • Good performance evaluations
  • Vague reasons for the termination, e.g., the Company is going in a different direction, or you are not a good fit
  • The Company violated its own policy during the termination process, such as not providing three warnings prior to termination.

What can I recover from a wrongful termination lawsuit?

An employee who has been wrongfully terminated may recover the following:

  • Back pay for the lost wages that accumulated from the time you were fired to the time the court issues a judgment
  • Front pay for lost wages from the date of the judgment until the date you are reinstated to your old position or you find a new job
  • The cost of health insurance and other benefits you would have received from your employer if you weren’t fired
  • An injunctive relief order that tells your employer to cease specific actions, rewrite the company’s firing policies, or rehire you
  • Recovery for emotional distress, pain and suffering
  • Punitive / exemplary damages designed to punish the employer and deter others from engaging in similar conduct

Could I have a case if I was forced to quit, but I was not fired?

Yes, that is referred to as “Constructive Discharge.”  In California, constructive discharge occurs when an employer made the working conditions so intolerable that a reasonable person under those circumstances would have also quit.  Examples include a reduced schedule, reduced rate of pay, a demotion or transfer to an undesirable location/position, or failing to prevent harassment/discrimination/retaliation.

What should I do if I suspect that I am being set up for a wrongful termination?

Start collecting evidence and create a chronology of events. Write down the dates and times of incidents, the place where they occurred, and the names of others who were present.  Memorialize discussions and circumstances. Save all documents (papers, emails, text messages, social media messages, pictures, videos, etc.) that support your claim. Collect the contact information of all witnesses.  Follow the employer’s grievance procedures, which should be in the Employee Handbook, and any other applicable policies. For example, make sure you lodge complaints with the human resources department or your supervisor, and make sure you do so in writing. If you send any emails, make sure you either CC-yourself to your personal email address, or send it from your personal email address.  Document how they responded to your complaints.  Forward all emails or evidence from your work email to a personal email.  We will sort through it all. More is better. The smallest detail could make a big difference.

What should I do now that I have already been fired (or forced to quit, or not hired)?

  • Collect evidence and create a chronology of events.  Write down the dates and times of incidents, the place where they occurred, and the names of others who were present. Memorialize discussions and circumstances. Save all documents (papers, emails, text messages, social media messages, pictures, videos, etc.) that support your claim.  Collect the contact information of all witnesses.
  • Stop talking to anyone and retain a wrongful termination lawyer.  Contact an experienced wrongful termination lawyer who can help analyze your specific situation.  Be careful about speaking with lawyers who practice in many areas of law, because they simply will not be specialists, so they will not get you the recovery you deserve. Similarly, be careful about lawyers who handle many cases, because they are mills who will not get you the recovery you deserve.  And make sure you hire a lawyer who will litigate your case and take it to trial if necessary, instead of hiring lawyer who simply sends threatening settlement demand letters.
  • Stay away from social media.  Don’t post anything about your firing, layoff or discriminatory treatment on social media. Consider taking down your social media profiles until your case is resolved.  The attorneys for the employers will scour all your social media sites for posts that may help their case.  Even seemingly innocent posts, photos or videos can be twisted and used against you.  Anything you post online can be used against you in court.

What will it cost to hire a wrongful termination lawyer?

The Law Offices of Eric A. Boyajian, APC, Employment Lawyer provides a free, no obligation, initial consultation.  If we take your case, you pay nothing unless there is a recovery (at trial or settlement).

Terminating an employee is not illegal. Here are some examples of
what might be considered wrongful termination:

Age Fired because of your age


You have turned 40 years old and your employer feels they want a “younger face” representing the face of the business to customers.

Disability Fired because of a physical disability, mental disability, or medical condition


You have a disability/medical condition that requires reasonable accommodation to do your job, but your employer refuses.

Sexual Orientation Fired because of sexual orientation


You came out openly as a member of the LGBTQ community.

Race/Color Fired because of your race/color


Your employer is prejudiced against members of your race and has thus fired you.

Religion Fired because of your religion


Your employer terminated your employment because you practice a different religion than they do or they generally disagree with/oppose your religious beliefs.

Ancestry Fired because of your ancestry


You were fired when your employer learned you have ancestry they are prejudiced against.

National Origin Fired because of your national origin


You were fired because you were born and/or raised in a certain country.

Gender Identity Fired because of your gender identity/expression:


You identify as a gender or express your identity as a gender that may not be the same as the biological sex you were assigned at birth, and your employer thus fires you in a discriminatory manner.

Biological Sex Fired because of your biological sex


You might also be improperly fired for your biological sex, which is different from your gender.

Genetic Information Fired because of genetic information


You were fired due to the result of genetic tests, results of a family member’s genetic tests, and other such genetic information.

Marital Status Fired because of your marital status


You lost a job because you got married or your marriage ended.

Military Status Fired because of veteran or military status


Some employers will fire workers due to their association or lack of association with the armed forces.

Workplace Injury Fired after reporting a workplace injury


You filed for disability or workers’ compensation and your employer fired you in retaliation.

Whistleblower Fired for being a whistleblower


Your employer learned that you reported illegal activity, or you refused to do what your employer asked you to do because you thought it was illegal.

Association Fired for association


You were fired not necessarily because you fall into one of these protected categories, but because you are friends with, married to, or otherwise associate with someone who falls into one of these categories.

It is also worth noting that you do not need to belong to a protected category/class to justify taking legal action against an employer who may have fired you because they mistakenly believed you were a member of a certain category or group. For example, perhaps your attire or other such factors give your employer reason to suspect you practice a religion that you don’t actually practice. If your employer fires you accordingly, you likely have a case.

How a California Wrongful Termination Attorney Can Help You With Your Case

Employers know they can face consequences if they terminate an employee for illegal reasons.
Thus, unless an employer is very unintelligent or imprudent, it is highly unlikely they will admit
that they are firing an employee for their age, disability, sexual orientation, or other such factors.

It is more common for employers to cite other reasons when justifying an employee’s
termination. To show that you were wrongfully terminated, you will have to prove or provide
sufficient evidence indicating that the reason your employer has given for firing you is not an
accurate reflection of their true reason for doing so.

This can be very difficult to do on your own. To optimize your chances of presenting a strong
argument when filing a claim or lawsuit against an employer who you believe wrongfully
terminated you, it is very helpful to coordinate with a legal professional who can assist you in
these matters.

The specific ways in which a California wrongful termination attorney will go about showing that
you were illegally fired can vary depending on the circumstances. Generally, though, a lawyer
can help in the following critical ways:

Again, an employer will usually give a supposedly valid justification for terminating an employee, even if their actual reasons for firing a worker are different from their stated reasons. Employers in these circumstances often simply state that they are firing employees for poor performance.

It can be very insulting and frustrating to lose your job due to alleged poor performance when you know you have consistently performed reliably in your role at a company. Luckily, it may be possible to gather documentation indicating that claims about your inadequate job performance are at odds with previous evaluations of said performance.

For example, if necessary, your wrongful termination attorney could help you gather performance reviews, emails, and other forms of documentation indicating that your supervisor has historically been pleased with the work you’ve done.

Depending on the reasons an employer gives for terminating you, it may be helpful to get statements from coworkers, clients, and other such individuals that help you dispute your former employer’s claims.

For instance, perhaps an employer justifies firing you by stating that you have harassed your coworkers. Proving that your former employer is lying in this scenario may be much easier than it would otherwise be if you can get statements from coworkers and supervisors indicating you have never committed harassment.

That’s just one example. The main point to keep in mind is that a wrongful termination attorney in California can help you coordinate with others whose testimony and statements may strengthen your case.

Qualified wrongful termination attorneys possess various skills that help them provide their clients with the representation they deserve when they have been fired illegally. One common skill among experienced wrongful termination employees involves knowing how to carefully review all details of a company’s policies to identify ways in which an employee’s termination may represent a violation of said policies.

Contact Us To Schedule A Time To Meet With A Lawyer

If you think you have encountered any illegal activity in the workplace, call the Law Offices of Eric A. Boyajian, APC, Employment Lawyer to discuss your circumstances. From offices in Glendale, we represent clients throughout California. Call us at 818-839-5969 or contact us by sending us a message through our contact form here.