We Protect Workers

What to do if youʼve been wrongfully terminated

Getting unceremoniously fired from your job will disrupt your life. Your finances, your daily schedule and all of your other plans will suddenly change. You probably need to save money until you find another job.

Losing your job without another position lined up might mean months of unemployment. You may have to accept lower compensation or a lower position at a company, meaning there will be a career setback.

People do eventually recover from unexpected terminations, but losing your job will still be a source of stress and possibly hardship. If you believe your employer’s decision was wrongful and a violation of your rights, you may be in a position to fight back against your firing.

Explore whether your circumstances qualify as wrongful termination

The first step after getting let go from your job without forewarning will be looking at your situation carefully to see if it qualifies as wrongful termination. If your employer violated the terms of your employment contract, you could have a claim for wrongful termination.

However, California is an at-will employment state. That generally means your employer can let you go for any reason, as long as it is legal. Illegal reasons to fire someone include discrimination against protected characteristics like race, gender identity or retaliation.

Retaliation involves a company punishing someone who reports misconduct for harassment on the job. Retaliation claims sometimes also affect those who need medical accommodation after a workplace injury or the development of a serious medical condition.

Gather documentation to show why your termination was wrongful

When you get let go by a company, they will likely escort you out of the building with only your personal property. You won’t be able to access company records or even your email account through the business.

Making physical notes or video recordings that discuss the events that you believe led to termination, or show a pattern of discrimination or harassment, can be a good starting point. You may need to make contact with co-workers or others who have witnessed misconduct on the job. Even previous journal entries or personal emails discussing mistreatment at work could play a role.

That documentation can help you analyze your circumstances with an attorney. If a lawyer agrees that your termination was probably wrongful, you can file a civil suit against your employer asking for damages or even trying to get your job back.