What is Considered Wrongful Termination in California?

Understanding Your Rights After an Unlawful Firing at Your Workplace

Wrongful termination occurs when someone is fired from their job for an illegal reason. Wrongful termination may happen as a result of retaliation, discrimination, breach of contract, or violation of state or federal law. It is important to discuss your case with an attorney as soon as possible to determine your legal rights after an illegal termination of your employment.

At Levin & Nalbandyan, our trial lawyers defend the rights of wrongfully terminated employees throughout Los Angeles. We are dedicated, compassionate lawyers that believe companies must be held responsible for their wrongdoing. We have recovered millions on behalf of individuals who were illegally fired from their jobs. 

If you believe that you were wrongfully terminated from your position, contact our office at (213) 232-4848 for a free consultation. 

What Constitutes Wrongful Termination?

Wrongful termination includes any firing or layoff that is done unlawfully. Illegal reasons for termination may include firing an employee because of their race, gender, or political beliefs. An employee may also have a valid wrongful termination lawsuit if they are fired because they are pregnant or take time off from work after having a baby.

Examples of wrongful termination include:

  • Retaliation
  • Discrimination
  • Breach of contract
  • Violations of public policy

It is important to note that most people are considered at-will employees, meaning they do not have to have good cause for leaving their job, and an employer does not have to have good cause for terminating their employment. However, an employer cannot fire someone for an illegal reason or in violation of a contract.


It is illegal for an employer to fire an employee in retaliation for reporting wrongful activities or in retaliation for taking legally mandated time off. 

Common wrongful termination claims related to retaliation:

  • Firing an employee for making a workers’ compensation claim;
  • Whistleblower retaliation;
  • Firing an employee for reporting sexual harassment or discrimination;
  • Firing an employee for filing a wage and hour complaint; and
  • Firing an employee for requesting reasonable accommodations.

wrongful termination lawyer can help you determine whether you have an eligible claim based on the circumstances of your firing. It is vital to act as quickly as possible as you only have a limited amount of time to file a complaint. 


Employees are protected under state and federal law from unlawful discrimination. Unfair treatment includes firing because of race, sexual orientation, gender, or another protected class. Pregnancy is another reason a woman may be discriminated against or illegally fired from her job. 

Breach of Contract

While most employees are considered at-will and can be terminated without cause, some employees are not. The firing without justification may then be in violation of a contract. Your employment contract may require that your employer show cause for termination. It is essential to have an attorney review your employment contract to determine whether the firing was in breach of your contract.

Violations of Public Policy

Finally, an employer may not terminate your employment if it violates public policy. You cannot be fired for refusing to violate a law or for exercising your rights. 

Violations of public policy in California can include:

  • Firing related to a wage and hour dispute;
  • Firing after taking legal time off in violation of the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA); or
  • A layoff in violation of California’s Worker Retraining and Notification (WARN) Act.

If you believe that you were wrongfully terminated in violation of public policy, you need an attorney. You have the right to legal counsel and may have the right to compensation for your damages.

Wrongfully Discharged From Your California Job? Contact Our Office.

Do you suspect that you were fired for an illegal reason? Contact our office at (213) 232-4848 for a free and confidential consultation. Let our knowledgeable legal team investigate your claim and help determine whether you should pursue a lawsuit against your employer. Let us fight for you and your family.




If your claim has been denied or your attorney has decided to give up, reach out to our firm for a second opinion.