How to File a Wrongful Termination Claim in California

How to File a Wrongful Termination Claim in California

California, known for its thriving industries like tech and finance, attracts many job seekers annually.

Despite being an at-will state where employers can terminate employees at will, certain actions or demographics are protected.

Wrongful termination can occur if an employer cites these reasons or if the employee can prove such motives.

Both employers and employees in California should be aware of what constitutes wrongful termination, how to file a claim, and the protected reasons and statuses.

An image illustration of How to File a Wrongful Termination Claim in California
How to File a Wrongful Termination Claim in California
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How to File a Wrongful Termination Claim in California

  1. Collect Evidence Quickly:
    • Save texts or emails explaining the termination reasons.
    • Note details if fired in person, including who was there and when.
    • Act fast, as the time limit is typically two years (or three for certain violations).
  2. File a Complaint:
    • Get a lawyer’s help to file a formal complaint.
    • Depending on the issue (like discrimination), send it to the appropriate agency.
    • Consider a civil lawsuit if seeking financial compensation.
  3. Legal Action or Settlement:
    • The employer might offer a settlement instead of going to court.
    • The employee can choose whether to accept it or proceed with a lawsuit.
    • If there’s no settlement, the legal process involves documentation, discovery, mediation, and possibly a trial.

Reasons Considered for Firing Employees in California

Illegal reasons for firing an employee in California include discrimination based on race, color, religion, etc.,

Retaliation for reporting illegal activities, and breach of contract if there’s a requirement for a valid cause.

If uncertain about the legality of your termination, consult with a wrongful termination attorney.

What doesn’t count as Wrongful Termination in California?

Not all terminations are considered wrongful in California.

In an at-will state like California, employers can generally terminate employees for any legal reason, even if not specified in the contract.

Employers often provide minimal notice or explanation to avoid potential legal issues and discrimination claims.

An image illustration of Filling a Wrongful Termination Claim in California
Filling a Wrongful Termination Claim in California
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Why is there a time limit to file a Lawsuit?

The time limit, known as the statute of limitations, exists to prevent employees from filing lawsuits after a significant delay.

This protects employers by ensuring timely access to evidence and witnesses.

Waiting too long could make it challenging to gather necessary proof, as memories fade, and witnesses become harder to locate.

Additionally, it safeguards employers from prolonged legal action for wrongful termination, preventing lawsuits long after the incident occurred.


Understanding how to file a wrongful termination claim in California is crucial for both employers and employees.

Swiftly gathering evidence, seeking legal guidance, and filing a formal complaint are essential steps.

It is important to be aware of the protected reasons and statuses, and the statute of limitations, to ensure a timely and effective pursuit of legal action.

Whether pursuing a settlement or opting for litigation, the process demands diligence and a clear understanding of one’s rights.

The legal landscape surrounding wrongful termination in the state.

ALSO READ: How much do Wrongful Termination Cases Settled for?



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