What is Wrongful Discharge in Violation of Public Policy?

Author: Mesriani Law Group
Posted on: May 25, 2021

In California, most employees are considered at-will. At-will employees mean that the employer can terminate their employment at any time and for almost any reason. The exception to the general rule of at-will employment is wrongful termination (or informally referred to as wrongfully discharged) in violation of public policy.

Here’s what California employees should know:

Wrongful Termination in Violation of Public Policy in California

Wrongful termination in violation of public policy happens when an employee gets fired for refusing to participate in unethical or unlawful activities.

Examples of when an employee can get wrongfully discharged in violation of public policy include:

  • Reporting a violation of a statue of public importance
  • Refusing to violate a statute
  • Performing a legal duty or statutory obligation
  • Exercising a privilege or statutory right

For example, an employee who gets fired for reporting harmful or unsafe working conditions could have a claim for wrongful termination. Another example is when an employee gets fired for taking time off to serve on a jury.

An employee has the right to file a claim against their employer if they find themselves in any of the situations described above. California law prohibits employers from firing an employee for refusing to break the law.

Recoverable Damages in a Wrongful Termination Lawsuit

In California, employees have several kinds of damages that they could be entitled to if they are the victim of wrongful termination. Possible damages that an employee could claim include:

  • Lost wages and/or benefits – This includes lost pay and benefits that an employee could expect to earn if he or she were still working. In other words, it’s the pay and benefits that an employee could earn if he or she wasn’t wrongfully terminated.
  • Emotional distress – This can include compensation for a diminished quality of life, embarrassment, humiliation, psychological trauma, or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
  • Pain and suffering – Compensation can include physical or mental pain and suffering. Physical pain and suffering result in actual physical injuries. Mental pain and suffering include any negative emotion the victim endured such as depression, anger, loss of appetite, mood swings, or sleep disturbances.

In some cases, an employee may even be able to receive punitive damages. Punitive damages are meant to punish the employer for negative behavior. Punitive damages are awarded in wrongful termination in violation of public policy cases when the employer is found to be guilty of fraud, malice, or oppression.

Wrongfully terminated employees should note that the statute of limitation in California to file a lawsuit for wrongful termination is two (2) years. If you believe you may be a victim of wrongful termination, contact Mesriani Law Group as soon as possible before time runs out.

Contact a California Wrongful Termination Attorney Today

State and federal employment laws protect employees from unfair treatment at work. If you were fired or laid off for an unlawful reason, you have the right to file a claim against your employer. Let our experienced employment lawyers help you obtain the justice you deserve. We are confident we can help you and offer all of our clients a No Win No Fee guarantee policy. Contact Mesriani Law Group today for your free consultation.