You’re no doubt stunned when you learn you’ve been terminated through no fault of your own. Not only can this event be hard to grasp, but it also needs to be addressed as soon as possible. That’s because you only have a limited amount of time to file a complaint against an employer for wrongful termination. In California, the statute of limitations only runs three years, so you need to contact an employment law attorney immediately.
An employment lawyer will help you file your complaint in a timely manner so you don’t miss out on seeking necessary financial relief.
Types of Wrongful Termination
Wrongful termination can take one of the various forms and may include the following complaints:
- Sexual harassment and/or a hostile work environment
- Discrimination against race or a protected characteristic, such as gender, a disability, religion, or age
- Employer retaliation over a workers’ compensation claim
- Violations related to the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA)
- Wage and hour violations
- Retaliation against people who report illegalities in the workplace (called whistleblower retaliation)
- Fair Housing and Employment Act breaches during the termination process
You’ll need to speak to an attorney to find out how you need to proceed with your case, as different cases are handled differently.
For example, your lawyer will guide you differently on violations concerning the FMLA or a workers’ compensation claim than when you’re seeking equity for sexual discrimination or similar forms of favoritism or bigotry.
However, in any of these cases, you need to seek help now rather than later to ensure that you can exercise and preserve your rights as an employee.
The Federal Statute of Limitations
Federal law restricts employers from terminating employees due to race, sex, religion, age, and disability. If you have an EEOC complaint to file, you need to file your grievance with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) within 180 days after you’re fired. The deadline is extended to 300 days if the case is also covered by state anti-discrimination laws.
California Wrongful Termination Complaints
A California employer is prohibited legally from firing you for a protected characteristic, such as religion, race, sex, disability, etc. He or she also cannot let you go for exerting your rights as an employee or for fulfilling responsibilities, such as military service or jury duty.
EEOC-enforced legislation requires you file a charge with the EEOC first for unlawful discrimination before filing a lawsuit. This law is mandated for discrimination-related filings except those involving the Equal Pay Act.
Filing a Complaint with a State Agency
Anyone wrongfully terminated for an EEOC violation in California may also file a complaint, within one year of the termination, with the Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH). You need to do this first before filing a lawsuit against an employer in civil court.
Note: The EEOC only accepts complaints from employers who have 15 or more employees. DFEH complaints are made for employers who have at least 5 employees. You can file with the EEOC and/or DFEH if the employer has 15 or more employees. Therefore, you should file your complaint with the DFEH if you were fired from a company with 5 to 15 employees.
If the EEOC and DFEH both have the type of discrimination you experienced, you can file with both agencies.
Filing a Lawsuit in Civil Court
To sue your employer in civil court after filing with the DFEH, you must receive a right-to-sue notice from the DFEH. You’ll need the help of an employment law attorney, as you might also have to take part in a resolution concerning the dispute.
If the DFEH does not begin a civil action against your former employer within 150 days from filing the complaint, or they decide against bringing a civil action against the company, they’re required, legally, to issue a right-to-sue notice.
Once you receive the right-to-sue notice, you have one year to file a wrongful termination lawsuit against your employer.
Extending the Federal and State Deadlines
It goes without saying – you need to file a lawsuit as soon as possible. However, if you believe you’ve missed a deadline, check with your lawyer. State and federal legislation, in some cases, may provide extensions on the filing of complaints. It just depends on the situation.
Deadlines for Federal Filings
If you have filed an EEOC lawsuit for getting wrongfully terminated from your job, this type of suit is also covered by certain anti-discrimination provisions legislatively. You have 300 days from your date of termination to file a federal complaint
Deadline Extensions in California
In California, deadline extensions for complaints concerning wrongful firings make the following allowances:
- If you find out about your employer’s unlawful action within 90 days of the deadline expiration, you’re given a 90-day extension.
- If you have a specific issue with the identification of the correct employer, you can get a one-year extension.
- If you were wrongfully terminated as a minor, you’re given an extension of one year to file a complaint after you reach the age of majority.
However, don’t automatically assume you can depend on the above extensions. It’s still best to file your complaint as early as you can so you can fully exert your civil rights.
Reach Out to Belal Hamieh Today to Preserve your Employee Rights
In California, you can seek legal counsel by contacting Belal Hamideh Law at (562) 526-1224 for further information about wrongful termination complaints. Give the firm a call now to set up an appointment today.