Filing a Wrongful Termination Claim with the California Labor Board

Submitted by Elizabeth on

In California, both federal law and state law prohibit employers from illegally firing employees for discriminatory reasons. A worker might also be illegally fired if an employer is retaliating against them for filing a claim, cooperating with an investigation, drawing attention to unsafe workplace conditions, or engaging in a similar protected act.

Do you believe your employer has illegally fired you due to discrimination or retaliation? If so, you may file a claim to seek lost wages and/or reinstatement to your job.

Who Do I File a Wrongful Termination Claim With in California?

In California, a worker who believes an employer wrongfully terminated them due to discrimination or retaliation may seek justice by filing a claim with a relevant agency. The agency they file a claim with will depend on the specific circumstances.

A worker who believes an employer engaged in discrimination when terminating them should file a claim with the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH). The DFEH enforces California's anti-discrimination laws, including the Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA). This law prohibits discrimination in employment based on protected characteristics. It applies to employers with five or more employees.

A worker who believes an employer terminated them in retaliation for engaging in protected activity, such as reporting unlawful conduct or filing a complaint with a government agency, should file a claim with the California Division of Labor Standards Enforcement (DLSE), also known as the Labor Commissioner's Office. The DLSE enforces California's labor laws, including those offering protection against retaliation. 

When Should I File a Claim In California?

It’s important to act fast if you plan on filing a claim. Be aware:

  • You must file a claim for retaliation within one year of losing your job
  • Generally, the deadline for filing any claim with the DFEH is one year
  • If an agency investigates the matter and provides you with a right-to-sue letter, you have one year to file a civil lawsuit

What Do I Need When Filing a Wrongful Termination Claim in California? 

Gathering proper evidence when filing a wrongful discrimination claim is essential. Evidence of discrimination in the workplace may include:

  • Correspondence indicating an employer discriminated against you
  • Documentation indicating an employer has a history of discrimination
  • Evidence indicating members of a certain protected group don’t have the same opportunities in the company as others
  • Witness statements

If you’re filing a claim alleging an employer fired you in retaliation for engaging in a protected act, you’ll need to gather evidence indicating an employer was typically happy with your performance until you engaged in said act. Your goal is to establish a link between your actions and your employer’s change in attitude toward you.

For example, you might provide copies of performance evaluations indicating an employer never had an issue with your performance until you filed a claim, reported an unsafe condition at work, etc.

Get Help From a Wrongful Termination Lawyer 

The process of gathering evidence, filing a claim, and pursuing justice in court if necessary can be very time-consuming and complex. Luckily, you don’t have to go it alone. In California, a wrongful termination attorney can assist you with these tasks. Begin seeking justice after an illegal firing by completing the Free Case Evaluation form on this page to get connected with a lawyer and schedule a free consultation today to learn more—all at zero cost to you. 

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