Representing California Employees In Employment Law Claims
From retaliation against whistleblowers to the firing of an employee who complains about sexual harassment, wrongful termination cases often come down to the victim’s word against the employer’s. These are hard cases to prove.
Yet the wrongful termination attorneys at Greene Broillet & Wheeler, LLP, have repeatedly brought such credibility and authority to our clients’ words that they have prevailed in cases against Fortune 500 companies and major corporations in Los Angeles, throughout California, and across the nation. We know that all employees deserve to have someone standing up for their rights, no matter how challenging the legal case. This is true whether someone works for a small business or a worldwide, billion-dollar corporation.
In California and many other states, employers can hire and fire most employees at will. However, they cannot fire people for reasons that violate the law or public policy. For example, a company cannot fire employees who stood up for their rights if an employer engaged in discrimination or harassment in the workplace. Furthermore, they cannot fire an employee whistleblower who reports fraud, illegal activities, or safety violations to the government. Employers will rarely admit the true, unlawful reason for a termination, however, creating an uphill battle for fired employees.
If you believe your employer wrongfully terminated you, seek representation from an employment attorney who knows how to prove your claim and who will not back down. Contact Greene Broillet & Wheeler, LLP, via confidential email or call us at (310) 576-1200 to have a member of our team evaluate your wrongful termination claim and discuss a possible case.
A History of Success in Wrongful Termination and Harassment Lawsuits
Our clients have triumphed over employers in the financial industry, in healthcare, in the automotive industry, in real estate and construction, in high tech, insurance, and more for retaliation and wrongful termination due to:
- Employee complaints of discrimination on the basis of race, ethnicity, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, age, and disability
- Employee complaints of harassment
- Employee whistleblowing to expose employer wrongdoing
- Contract disputes
No matter what led to a wrongful termination or the type of employer involved, our lawyers fully understand how to get our clients the justice they deserve.
Our tradition of success is evident in our case results. The lawyers of Greene, Broillet & Wheeler, LLP, have secured more million-dollar results for clients than any other injury law firm in California. Many of our settlements and verdicts are in the seven, eight, and nine figures, and we continue to strive to meet this standard for our clients. Consider the following employment law cases we handled.
- $3 million verdict for a whistleblower. For one client, an accountant in a healthcare company, we proved his charges of fraudulent behavior by his corporate superiors (whistleblowing) to gain support for his wrongful termination lawsuit. The jury agreed with our client and awarded him a $3 million verdict.
- $1 million settlement for a wrongfully terminated employee. Our client reported she experienced sexual harassment and racial discrimination by her immediate supervisor. Her employer wrongfully terminated her. A jury returned a verdict of $850,000, though our wrongful termination attorneys secured a $1 million settlement after appeal.
Members of our legal team also have extensive experience obtaining billions of dollars in settlements and verdicts against large corporations in a wide variety of employment and personal injury claims. Some of these results include:
- $4.9 billion verdict against General Motors
- $73 million verdict against Ford Motor Company
- $55 million verdict against Marriott
- $33 million verdict against Budget Rent-a-Car and the Los Angeles Police Department
- $25.9 million verdict against Ford Motor Company
- $6 million settlement against the Los Angeles Police Department
Our lawyers also represent the rights of victims of sexual assault or misconduct—both in and outside the workplace. We obtained $20.7 million for a college student after a sexual assault. The media also widely publicized our firm’s representation of sportscaster and television personality Erin Andrews against Marriott Hotels and her convicted stalker, after undressed photos of her in her hotel room appeared online. Our lawyers not only obtained a $55 million jury verdict for Andrews—we also used our work to support legislation in both California and Tennessee that increased protections for victims of such sex crimes.
Our work representing plaintiffs against large corporations and victims of sexual misconduct illustrates our ability to take on the toughest cases. We know these cases require resources, skill, and experience, and we regularly bring all of these to the cases we take. If you have a complicated wrongful termination or sexual harassment case, please do not hesitate to call to discuss whether we can help.
Identifying Wrongful Termination
Wrongful termination cases can pose difficult challenges right from the start since many employees may not even know whether their firing was unlawful. An unlawful firing can be hard to identify and even more difficult to prove, so do not wait to discuss the possibility of a legal claim with an experienced employment law attorney.
California law allows at-will employment, which means that absent an employment contract, either the employer or employee can end the employment relationship when they want, without a reason. However, an employer’s right to terminate employees is not unlimited, as companies cannot fire employees for reasons that violate state or federal law or public policy. Many different laws protect employees, resulting in different types of wrongful termination claims.
Termination Based on Discrimination
California employees have protections under all of the same federal antidiscrimination laws that protect workers around the nation, including the Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Title VII), the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), and the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA), among numerous others.
These laws protect employees from workplace discrimination based on:
- National origin
- Sex, including pregnancy
- Sexual orientation
- Gender identity
- Marital status
- Genetic information
- HIV/AIDS status
- Medical conditions
- Citizenship status
- Military status
- Political activities or beliefs
- Status as a victim of domestic violence or related crimes
Your employer cannot make any employment decisions, including termination, based on the above factors. If you are a member of a protected class and believe your employer fired you based on any protected factor, seek legal advice right away.
Termination Based on Retaliation
The law allows employees to assert their rights under employment laws without the fear of retaliation by their employer. This includes the right to complain about sexual harassment, discrimination, or other violations of the law. Retaliation includes any adverse employment action, including termination. Employers may not retaliate for any of the following:
- Reporting sexual harassment or discrimination
- Requesting or taking time off under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA)
- Filing a valid workers’ compensation claim
- Exercising any other legal right as a California employee
If you complained about harassment or took any other legal action at work and your employer terminated you, you may have important legal rights.
Termination of Whistleblowers
Whistleblowers are regularly the victims of unlawful retaliation. Both federal and state laws protect an employee’s right to report the unlawful activities of their employers to supervisors, law enforcement, or a government agency, including the right to participate in investigations regarding violations. Employees may report health or safety violations, noncompliance with any rule or regulation, or violation of any federal or state law.
Despite these clear protections under the law, many companies still terminate whistleblowers. Anyone who stood up against unlawful activities and got fired needs the highest quality of employment law representation as soon as possible.
Termination in Violation of Public Policy
A wrongful termination does not have to directly violate a specific law. In some cases, a statute may not directly apply to your situation. Still, your termination may have violated California public policy. Examples of this include:
- Firing an employee who refuses to engage in unethical or unlawful activity
- Firing an employee for exercising the right to vote
- Firing an employee for engaging in legal obligations, such as jury duty
A lawyer who is thoroughly familiar with California wrongful termination claims should evaluate public policy violations on a case-by-case basis.
Termination in Violation of an Employment Contract
At-will employment is the standard in California unless you entered into an employment contract with your employer. Contracts are common in professions that require significant resources for employee training, expose employees to confidential information or intellectual property, or have certain legal requirements. Employment contracts will generally set out a term of employment, during which neither the employer nor the employee can end the relationship without just cause. The contract should specify what constitutes just cause for termination. If you signed an employment contract and get fired without just cause, you can take legal action for breach of contract.
Proving whether your employer wrongfully terminated you can present serious difficulties. The circumstances of your termination may seem wrong, but without knowing the many state and federal employment laws, most employees do not know for sure. The best way to learn your legal rights and options is to evaluate your situation with a highly experienced employment law plaintiff’s attorney.
Seeking the Legal Relief California Employees Deserve
The law gives victims of wrongful termination the right to seek legal relief, and the relief sought in a specific case will depend on the circumstances that led to the unlawful firing. Some forms of relief may include:
- Reinstatement to your previous position
- Wages and benefits lost as a result of the untimely termination
- Court costs and attorney fees
- Damages for emotional distress, which are common in cases involving sexual harassment or discrimination
- Punitive damages if your employer undertook particularly egregious actions
Some people will not find a return to their previous positions realistic or preferable. However, some employees may want to seek this form of relief in addition to lost earnings and other damages. We closely review each case with our clients to determine the best legal relief in their cases. Damages in wrongful termination cases can rise into the millions of dollars, and you want an attorney who will address all of your losses and know how to seek the maximum amount possible in your situation.
At Green, Broillet & Wheeler, LLP, our attorneys regularly handle claims worth millions of dollars. We have the resources needed to help employees in even the most distressing instances of wrongful termination, so please call us for help if you believe you have a case.
Investigating Claims of Employer Misconduct and Wrongful Termination
Workplace lawsuits require thorough investigation and experience handling the administrative requirements unique to employment litigation. As one of California’s premier plaintiff’s law firms, Greene Broillet & Wheeler, LLP, has significant investigative resources it can put to work on an unfair termination case.
Employers are not generally forthcoming when the reasons behind a termination violated the law. Instead, an employer will often present other reasons for the firing that challenge any assertions of wrongful termination. For example:
- An employee complained to her supervisor that sexual harassment by a coworker was causing a hostile work environment
- Soon afterward, the supervisor fired the employee
- When the former employee brought a legal action for wrongful termination, the supervisor claimed he fired her due to a reduction in the employee’s productivity and not in retaliation for her sexual harassment complaint
Giving such pretextual reasons for termination is highly common in this type of case, as employers want to avoid liability whenever possible. When an employer presents an excuse, the employee then must sufficiently prove that the nondiscriminatory reason was pretextual and not the actual reason for the termination. This can involve a complex process, as an employee must present evidence of the true reason for the unlawful termination.
This is where our lawyers come in, as we have extensive resources to dedicate to the thorough investigation of each case we take. Our full-time, in-house investigators can gather the following evidence when available or appropriate:
- Statements from coworkers regarding discrimination or harassment on the part of an employer
- Employment records indicating no performance or delinquency issues
- Proof that an employer did not terminate other employees in the same situation
- Proof of close proximity between an employee’s protected activity or class and the termination
- Proof an employer’s shifting reasons for the termination during litigation
Because pretext is so common in wrongful termination cases, you need attorneys ready and able to gather evidence to prove the true reason for your termination.
Bringing a Wrongful Termination Case to Trial
Under the law, if your employer terminates you because you complained or tried to assert your rights to freedom from unlawful discrimination or harassment, you must first properly file a complaint with the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) before you can proceed with a wrongful termination lawsuit in state court. The department can then issue a right-to-sue notice, which allows you to proceed with a claim in civil court instead of using DFEH’s investigative process.
On the other hand, cases involving violations of public policy or the breach of an employment contract can proceed directly to a lawsuit. Hire an attorney who can identify the underlying legal issues in your case and knows how to best pursue relief and damages on your behalf.
Wrongful termination cases are often extremely adversarial, as employers will rarely openly admit to wrongdoing such as discrimination, harassment, or wrongful termination. Employers may refuse to admit any liability, meaning they refuse to settle during the pretrial process. Their lawyers, however, know that we are ready, willing, and able to go to court, and this reputation provides a distinct advantage for our clients.
Injured employees often receive greater compensation, whether or not their case ultimately goes to trial, because employers and their counsel realize they face relentless and highly skilled opposition in Greene, Broillet & Wheeler, LLP. This is especially the case in claims against large corporations, as the attorneys at Greene, Broillet & Wheeler, LLP, know how to go up against such major companies and have the resources to prevail, including at trial.
Success at trial requires the compelling presentation of complex evidence to convince a jury of a plaintiff’s wrongful termination. In many cases, we secured computer and forensic accounting evidence to support our clients’ claims. Gathering this evidence is expensive, time-consuming, and highly technical. When presented in court, such evidence could appear tedious to a jury, but not in a trial conducted by Greene Broillet & Wheeler, LLP’s employment attorneys.
We are innovative in our approach to presenting such evidence in court. Our discrimination and harassment team has repeatedly and successfully transformed “dull” material into persuasive arguments that a jury can understand. We explore every possible angle from which we can present a case, and we understand that each claim is unique. Our attorneys are skilled and flexible, adapting to the circumstances and needs of each case to obtain the best possible results for our clients.
Don’t Let Your Employer Violate Your Rights. Call for a Consultation Today
If you are the victim of employment discrimination, harassment, or wrongful termination, or if you are an attorney seeking a skilled litigator to take a case to trial, contact Greene Broillet & Wheeler, LLP. Our respected and recognized employment law attorneys represent clients and assist other lawyers in the Los Angeles area, Southern California, and throughout the entire state. We also consult with attorneys and clients nationwide. Please contact us online or call (310) 576-1200 to discuss a possible case today.
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“Mr. Mark Quigley, and his associates, Mr. Ivan Puchalt and Mr. Aaron Osten, are exceptional attorneys, trustworthy and very knowledgeable, and truly devoted to seek justice for their clients. They will litigate your case with diligence and professionalism, without compromising their high ethical standards, a quality that I really appreciated and admired in them. Apart from being brilliant lawyers, Mark, Ivan and Aaron are also very personable, always courteous and discreet, confident but never arrogant. I have ultimate trust in them and their expertise, and I would highly recommend them, without hesitation, to anyone seeking justice in employment-related matters.”
Review by: Stella T.