Is Wrongful Termination Difficult to Prove

Proving a violation of employment law or discrimination law can be challenging. California is an “at-will” employment state, which could make the task of proving wrongful termination more difficult. 

In an “at-will” employment state like California, an employer can fire an employee at any time without giving a reason or justification. There are some exceptions, such as employees who are members of a union or employees with employment contracts. However, most employees are “at-will” employees, so they can be lawfully terminated at any time.

There is another exception to terminating an “at-will” employee. The termination must not violate anti-discrimination laws or employment protection laws. If the employer breaks the law when it fires an employee, the employer could be liable for damages in a wrongful termination claim.

Examples of Situations That Could Create a Wrongful Termination 

Employers need to be cautious when firing an employee, even an “at-will” employee. Some situations could give rise to a wrongful termination lawsuit. 

Examples of situations that could represent wrongful termination include:

  • An employee is fired after filing a whistleblower complaint or cooperating with an investigation. (Employer Retaliation)
  • The employer fires an employee based on a protected characteristic. For example, an employer might terminate an employee who just announced she was pregnant or a team member that is getting married to his male partner. (Discrimination)
  • An employee quits because he is being harassed and threatened by the employer. Here, the employer has made working conditions unbearable in hopes of making the employee quit. (Constructive Discharge)
  • A company fires an employee because she announces that she has joined the National Guard and will need time off periodically for training. (Public Policy)
  • An employer fires an employee because the employee decided she was an atheist. (Discrimination)

There are many more situations that could result in a wrongful termination lawsuit. If you are unsure whether your employer’s actions are illegal, talk with a wrongful termination lawyer to find out if you have a claim.

Proving Wrongful Termination Claims 

Evidence is the key to proving that you were wrongfully terminated. Begin gathering evidence as soon as you believe your employer may be getting ready to fire you. 

Print or download copies of all correspondence, memos, employee evaluations, employee handbooks, company policies, and any other written evidence that can support your claim. You will be locked out of the system immediately upon your termination, so everything you can gather now will be helpful.

Write down everything you can remember about the events leading up to your termination. Do this as soon as possible while the events are fresh on your mind. Do not forget to add dates, times, and people’s names to the description of events. Also, write down everyone involved and a list of witnesses.

Damages Alleged in Your Complaint

When you sue your employer for wrongful termination, the court may grant you a variety of damages. 

Damages that you could receive include:

  • Loss of income and benefits
  • Attorneys’ fees and costs
  • Compensation for physical pain, emotional distress, and loss of professional reputation

You could receive additional damages depending on the facts of your case. It is important to remember that you have a duty to mitigate damages. Mitigating damages means that you made a good faith effort to obtain employment that was substantially similar to your former employment. 

Do You Have a Wrongful Termination Claim?

An employment law attorney can answer this question for you. The attorney reviews the evidence you gathered and your narrative of the events leading up to the firing. The attorney is searching for evidence that supports allegations that your employer violated laws.

Laws that the employer may have violated when firing you could include:

  • Americans With Disabilities Act
  • Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967
  • Title VII Of the Civil Rights Act of 1964
  • The Pregnancy Discrimination Act
  • The Fair Employment and Housing Act
  • California WARN Act

The above list is just a sample of the laws that exist to protect employees in the workplace. An employment law attorney can help you determine the course of action to take based on your best interest and the facts of your case. 

It could take some time to resolve your claim. You need an experienced trial lawyer who has substantial resources, skills, and education to handle your wrongful termination claim.