Want to determine if you’ve been wrongfully terminated from your job? Here are a few steps to help you get set in the right direction taken from California law:
LOOK AT THE ELEMENTS OF A WRONGFUL TERMINATION CLAIM. The California Civil Instructions for juries 2430 (CACI) states that termination of employment is wrongful when:
- You were employed by the defendant;
- The defendant employer discharged or demoted you;
- That some violation of public policy was a motivating reason for your discharge or demotion; and
- the discharge or demotion caused you some harm.
Elements 1, 2, and 4 are pretty straightforward and easy to prove, making element 3 the most arguable point since a violation of public policy seems vague and undefined. Luckily, the courts have delineated what a “violation of public policy” looks like in past cases. “[T]he cases in which violations of public policy are found generally fall into four categories: (1) refusing to violate a statute; (2) performing a statutory obligation (3) exercising a statutory right or privilege; and (4) reporting an alleged violation of a statute of public importance.” (Gantt v. Sentry Insurance (1992) 1 Cal.4th 1083, 1090-1091 [4 Cal.Rptr.2d 874, 824 P.2d 680]. If you were fired as a result of doing any of those things, then you might have a valid claim.
DETERMINE YOUR DAMAGES. CACI 2433 provides for a measure of your provable damages that you will be awarded if you can prove all 4 elements of wrongful termination. The measure of damages is:
[a. Past economic loss, including [lost earnings/ lost profits/medical expenses:]
[b. Future economic loss, including [lost earnings/lost profits/lost earning capacity/ medical expenses:]
[c. Past noneconomic loss, including [physical pain/mental suffering:]
[d. Future noneconomic loss, including [physical pain/mental suffering:]