Filing a Wrongful Termination Claim in California

If you have been wrongfully terminated, you may have a claim to compensation. Here’s how to file a wrongful termination lawsuit in California.

In California, it is important to file your wrongful termination claim in a timely manner and to prepare and fill out the necessary and additional documentation. The Labor Commissioner’s office will stay in contact with you throughout this process so it is important to have addresses and phone numbers current.

Who Can File a Wrongful Termination Claim?

You are able to file a claim if you are an employee, former employee, or job applicant who has experienced discrimination.

Grounds for wrongful termination in California include:

  • Discrimination on race, age, sex
  • Being fired for exercising legal rights
  • Violation of an employment contract
  • Physical and Mental Disability
  • Religious Discrimination
  • Political Affiliation Discrimination
  • Military/ Veteran Status
  • Gender Identity/ Expression
  • Criminal Conviction Termination
  • Family Responsibility Discrimination
  • Hostile Work Environment
  • Pregnancy Discrimination
  • Sexual Orientation Discrimination

Related: Wrongful Termination Laws in California

Steps to Do-It-Yourself for Wrongful Termination Claims/Lawsuits

1. File your claim in a Timely Manner

  • All claims must be filed within one year of the employer’s retaliatory or discriminatory act. Exceptions include:
    • Equal Pay Act Violations which must be filed within 2 years (three years if willful)

Please note: Currently all claims filed with the Labor Commissioner are suspended due to the COVID 19 pandemic.

If the statute of limitations has passed, you still may be able to file a wrongful termination lawsuit. Contact one of our Wrongful Termination Attorneys in California for further assistance in seeing if it is possible to file after California’s statute of limitations.

2. Prepare to File the Complaint

Gather any documentation to help prove that your employer discriminated against you for exercising your rights. Document any changes in conditions following the exercise of your rights. These may induce demotion, and/or reduction in pay/hours. Gather information and documents about prior working conditions (pay stubs, timesheets, evaluations, personal notes, etc)

Related: How to Prove Wrongful Termination in California

3a. File the Complaint

To File the Wrongful Termination Complaint Online:

  • Please fill out Retaliation and/or Equal Pay Act (EPA) Complaint Form. (Make sure to press submit for the document to be recorded)

To File By Mail:

  • Please Complete the Retaliation Complaint or Equal Pay Complaint form.
  • Print, Sign, and Date the forms
  • Include copies of supporting documents. Do Not Send Original Documents
  • Mail/Deliver Completed forms and documents to the Labor Commissioner’s Office

3b. Filing a Workplace Health and Safety Complaint

An employee may have a retaliation claim if they were discriminated against because of:

  • Complaining of health and safety practices
  • Complaining of working conditions
  • Testifying in a health and safety proceeding
  • Exercising rights under California Occupational Safety and Health Act
  • Reporting a workplace injury
  • Refusing to work when a Labor code was violated
  • Reporting occupational health and safety violations under Labor Code Section 6401.7

Claims may be filed in person, online, emailed, mailed, faxed, or phoned to the Labor Commissioner’s Office.

4. After Filing the Claim

You will receive a notice from The Retaliation Complaint Investigation Unit. The investigation may include:

  • Interviews with you, your employer, managers, supervisors, and witnesses.
  • Additional Documentation

The Investigator may choose to schedule a mandatory hearing.

5. Settlement

A settlement may take place. In this situation, there will be 2 occurrences:

  • The employer will offer a certain amount of payment and the case will be settled with the resolution of a complaint.
  • If no settlement occurs, the investigation will continue.

You will receive a written determination by mail. If the Labor Commissioner decides you have been discriminated against, an employer may be required to within 30 days of the decision:

  • Pay any lost wages (from termination, demotion, or suspension)
  • Pay Penalties for violations
  • Reinstate the employees the former position
  • Delete negative references from the files
  • Avoid future retaliation
  • Post a notice in the workplace about retaliation, and penalties as well as an agreement to refrain from retaliation/discrimination.

If the employer refuses, the Labor Commissioner’s office will file a lawsuit for relief against the employer. Relief can include back pay, penalties, and various other relief.

FAQS About Wrongful Termination Claims/ Lawsuits

How Long Does a Wrongful Termination Case Take?

Most settlements take 6-10 months. However, wrongful termination cases can last up to a year or more.

How Much Compensation Can You Get for Wrongful Termination?

You can receive $5,000-80,000 in compensation for wrongful termination. Average settlements are $40,000.

What is the most common wrongful termination claim?

The most common claim is termination due to race, sexual orientation, or beliefs.

Contact Her Lawyer

If you or a loved one needs to file a wrongful termination lawsuit in California, contact us. We’ll get you in touch with the most qualified lawyer for your unique legal matter. We won’t charge you a dime unless you win your case!