Workplace injuries give the injured employee the right to file a claim for workers’ compensation. Despite California laws which clearly lay out this right, many employers choose to retaliate against employees who do file a workers’ comp claim. While all forms of retaliation are illegal, the last course of action is naturally the most severe.
If you were terminated after filing a workers’ compensation claim, we at Pacific Workers’ Compensation Law Center want to help. Our team of retaliation attorneys share more than 130 years of experience and believes in the just treatment of all Oakland employees. With our firm on your side, you can confidently stand up to mistreatment in the workplace.
When is a Termination “Wrongful?”
Employers have the right to fire their employees but only when their reasons for doing so don’t violate the law. In the United States workers are protected from being let go from their jobs unfairly. Many of these laws focus on preventing workplace harassment, a common cause in wrongful termination, however, there are a few other laws preventing firing in the case of a breach of contract and whistleblowing, among others. At times, employers will choose other relation tactics other than firing.
This retaliation can take place in many forms, including:
- Demoting the employee
- Discriminating against the employee
- Firing the employee altogether
Let us review your case for free! Simply submit an online form and we’ll do the rest.
Understanding Wrongful Termination in California
California is an “at-will” state; that means employers in California reserve the right to fire an employee at any time, with or without notice, for nearly any reason. However, an employer cannot fire you for reasons that are discriminatory or retaliatory in nature. As a person and an employee, you have rights. If an employer violates those rights by terminating your employment, you have grounds for a wrongful termination suit.
To put it simply, you can file a wrongful termination complaint if, in firing you, your employer violated:
- A state law
- A federal law
- Public policy
- Your employment contract
In other words, if your employer violated the law in any way in firing you, that is considered wrongful termination. This means your employer cannot fire you because of your race, ethnicity, age, sex, disability, religion, marital status, or any other protected class. You also cannot be fired in retaliation for seeking workers’ compensation or if you suddenly become disabled due to a work-related injury.
Common Reasons for Wrongful Termination Lawsuits
Just as an employer cannot violate your rights in firing you, your employer also cannot fire you for exerting your rights. This means that if you are fired after filing a workers’ compensation claim, you may be able to take action against your employer.
Some of the most common reasons wrongful termination lawsuits are filed include:
- Allegations of discrimination based on race, color, disability, age, sex/sexual identity, etc.
- Termination after taking protected leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act
- Retaliation for seeking workers’ compensation benefits
- Retaliation for whistleblowing/reporting illegal employer activities
- Termination after exercising the right to vote/protesting public policy
- Employee’s refusal to take part in illegal activity
- Retaliation after filing a complaint of workers’ law violations
Remember: you cannot file a wrongful termination lawsuit just because you were fired and you believe it was unfair. Your employer can fire you for virtually any reason except for those listed above. If you believe your rights were violated, reach out to our wrongful termination lawyers to learn more about your legal options during a confidential case evaluation.
Take Action with an Oakland Wrongful Termination Lawyer
Simply put, state laws prohibit employers from punishing their workers for suffering an injury on the job or filing a claim to recover compensation. Despite these laws, employers throughout California persist in doing exactly that, compounding the suffering that the injured worker must face.
It is also important to note that some employers try to create reasons for terminating injured workers. Unfair job performance reviews or unfounded criticism are often used to cover up illegal behavior, leading the employee to wonder if they deserved to be fired. Whatever the details of your case, the importance of securing legal representation cannot be overstressed.
When wrongful termination occurs, employees have the option of filing a complaint with the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) or filing their own lawsuit directly against the company. If you choose to file a claim with The DFEH, they will investigate your claim and act as a mediator between you and your former company, encouraging the parties to come to a mutual resolution while investigating whether the company violated the law or not.
If the mediation is not successful, and the DFEH finds that the employer did exhibit discriminatory behavior they may file a lawsuit against the employer. For either path, hiring an experienced wrongful death attorney may be crucial to your case’s success.
IS MY EMPLOYER LEGALLY REQUIRED TO HIRE ME BACK?
Unlike some states, California does not legally require companies to rehire their injured workers when they are ready to come back to work. California does, however, have very strict anti-discrimination laws. This means that if an employer won't allow you to return to work they must not be doing so out of retaliation or discrimination.
The Americans with Disabilities Act and the Fair Employment and Housing Act mandate that employers make accommodations for employees with disabilities. If your work injury resulted in a permanent or long-term disability your employer must make accommodations for you unless these accommodations would result in undue hardship on the company. These accommodations can include additional time off, or a change in work responsibilities.
Don't Wait to Get Help!
We refuse to let employers get away with unlawful behavior and can carefully assess your circumstances to execute the best course of action. California has a 1-2 year statute of limitations on wrongful termination depending on the circumstances. This means you have 1-2 years to file a claim or you may lose your right to compensation.
Employers found guilty of wrongful termination may face statutory penalties, be forced to compensate or reinstate the employee, and even get hit with punitive damages. Our goal at Pacific Workers’ Compensation Law Center is simple: achieve a swift and effective resolution to your case that comprehensively meets your needs.
We are eager to begin pursuing that goal on your behalf. Contact our retaliation attorneys in Oakland for a FREE consultation today.
See What Our Clients Have to Say About Us!