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Wrongful Termination Remedies Under California Law

Posted on in Employment

San Jose wrongful termination lawyers, wrongfully terminated, wrongful termination lawsuit, California employers, California employeeUnder California law, an employee who is wrongfully terminated is allowed to sue his or her former employer and, if the employee is able to prove his or her case, may recover a variety of different types of damages. This article briefly examines the definition of wrongful termination and also takes a look at the various possible remedies available to wrongfully terminated employees in California.

What is Wrongful Termination?

In California, most employees work “at-will,” which means that they do not have a specified term of employment and, according to section 2922 of the California Labor Code, may have their employment terminated at the will of their employer. In other words, a California employer may terminate an at-will California employee for pretty much any reason.

At first glance this may seem unfair; however, keep in mind that the employee is also able to terminate his or her employment at will. Additionally, there are important exceptions to California’s at-will employment law that act to limit an employer’s ability to fire an employee for any reason. For example, an employer may not fire a California employee if doing so:

  • Breaches an implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing,
  • Is retribution for whistleblower activities,
  • Goes against public policy, or
  • Constitutes fraud or misrepresentation.

An employee who has been fired for one of these improper reasons has been “wrongfully terminated” and may, if he or she is able to prove his or her case, recover some or all of the remedies outlined in the next section.

Possible Remedies

The types of damages that a successful wrongful termination plaintiff can expect to recover differs from case to case because no two wrongful termination lawsuits are exactly the same, but generally speaking someone who wins a wrongful termination lawsuit in California can expect to be awarded some or all of the damages outline below.

Lost Wages: When an employee is wrongfully terminated, he or she often misses out on earning income that, had he or she not been fired, the employee otherwise would have earned. Therefore, a wrongfully terminated employee is generally awarded compensation for the wages that he or she lost out on, plus the value of any additional employment benefits that he or she likely would have received had the individual not been wrongfully terminated (think retirement contributions, paid vacation, bonuses, etc.).

Emotional Distress: Additionally, a wrongfully terminated employee may be awarded compensation for emotional distress that he or she suffered. For example, the court may award damages designed to compensate a wrongfully terminated employee for the depression, anxiety, and/or mental anguish that he or she suffered, and/or is likely to suffer in the future due to being wrongfully terminated.

Attorney’s Fees: If the wrongfully terminated employee also included additional claims in his or her lawsuit for which attorney’s fees are recoverable (for example, if he or she claimed discrimination or harassment) then the court may order the defendant to pay the wrongfully terminated employee’s attorney’s fees.

Punitive Damages: Punitive damages, i.e. damages designed to punish the defendant for engaging in exceptionally egregious behavior, are not commonly awarded in wrongful termination cases but are on occasion awarded if the plaintiff can show that the defendant employer acted with fraud or malice.

Contact a Local Wrongful Termination Lawyer

Do you suspect that your employment was wrongfully terminated by a California employer? If so, one of the experienced San Jose wrongful termination lawyers at Jachimowicz Law Group would be happy to sit down with you during a free face-to-face consultation, discuss the circumstances surrounding your termination, and advise whether or not you likely have a viable wrongful termination claim on your hands.








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