California law narrows the basis on which an employer can terminate the employment of an employee.
While all states in the U.S. recognize at-will employment, each state allows specific exemptions. In other words, an employer may not terminate an employee for certain specific reasons. One of the most common prohibitions on terminating employment is discrimination. It would be unlawful for an employer to fire an employee solely because of the employee’s ethnicity, age, gender, religion, or disability status.
All states in the U.S. are at-will employment states. That means that either the employer or the employee can terminate the employment situation for whatever reason. However, employers are limited in terms of what basis they can use to fire an employee. So long as their employment was not terminated for illegal reasons, the employer is within their rights to fire an employee even if it is only because they are in a bad mood.
No employee can be lawfully terminated on the basis of race, sex, gender, gender identity, gender expression, sexual orientation, age, disability, political activities, national origin, religion, genetic information, or status as a veteran.
Employers may not fire employees for unionizing or attempting to unionize. This is a violation of the National Labor Relations Act.
If an employee reports an employer for illegal conduct or actions that go against the public good, that employee cannot be legally fired in California.
Additionally, it is unlawful for an employer to fire an employee for filing a workers’ compensation claim.
Certain leaves of absence are protected by statute. These include:
In order to successfully sue an employer for wrongful termination, you must prove that their grounds were “unjust” under California law. Discrimination, of course, is grounds for unjust termination, but there are contractual breaches that can occur, as well. In addition, there are retaliation claims and an employer may not fire an employee for refusing to commit a crime or otherwise violate public policy.
In California, the standard of proof in a wrongful termination claim is that the illegal reason was a “contributing factor” to the termination. This means that discrimination or any illegal reason does not need to be the only motivating factor, but the plaintiff must show that it was a substantial cause for the decision.
If you have been unfairly discharged by your employer, you may be able to sue them for wrongful termination. You may be able to collect damages related to your lost wages, emotional trauma, attorney and court fees, and, in some cases, punitive damages. Contact Bogaards Law for more information.
Wrongful death of the 20-year-old daughter of Renee and Israel Morales in the San Bruno PG&E gas pipeline explosion, with co-counsel John Feder. We were the second case to go to mediation resulting in one of the highest settlements in history.
Motorcyclist gets cut off by left-turning van in Capitola. Suffers below-knee amputation. Within one month of signing on with Bogaards Law, motorcyclist received a $250,000 advance from the defendant’s insurance company.
Pedro Avila was walking in a marked crosswalk, when a car took a left turn in Potrero Hill, and hit him. He suffered a broken right leg. The settlement included the $100,000 policy limits and $100,000 cash out of pocket from the motorist.
Speeding on a rented motorcycle after the Gay Pride Parade, plaintiff was hit by a Jeep making a left on Mission Street in San Francisco. Both sides’ accident reconstruction experts agreed that if plaintiff had been going the speed limit, the accident could have been avoided. Plaintiff suffered multiple pelvic fractures and underwent three surgeries. Her medical specials were $185,000. She had no wage loss claim as a Lt. Firefighter.
2019 – A petite 84 y.o.woman crossed in the middle of the street in dark clothing to go to the grocery store at night. She was hit by a car and died instantly.
Pedestrian gets hit by commuter bus making a right turn. Suffers a Lisfranc ankle injury with surgery. Medical bills were under $50,000. No wage loss.
Partial finger amputation of 8-year-old boy with comparative fault.
Customer trips and falls in parking garage. Suffers trimalleolar ankle fracture with surgery. Medical specials are $37,500. No wage loss.
Woman falls leaving a doctor’s office in SF. Suffers a complex ankle fracture. Liability is hotly contested. No wage loss.
Employee in a tech start-up makes a whistleblower claim regarding misuse of Facebook manager.
Homeowner slips on unsecured tarp in her foyer after coming downstairs and sues her general contractor doing her kitchen remodel. Homeowner suffers a severe elbow injury with surgery.
Wrist fracture arising out of pedestrian/auto accident, no surgery.
Plaintiff slipped and fell on nacho cheese on the floor at a U.S.F. basketball game, injuring his knee and resulting in arthroscopic surgery.
2014 – Mr. Dempsey was on his bicycle when he was hit by a car leaving the golf club. Liability was hotly contested. He suffered a broken right hand and cervical fractures.
Plaintiff was an 85-year-old man attending a weekly Rotary meeting at the DoubleTree Hotel in Livermore. He slipped on wet tiles and broke his femur in four places. Unfortunately, due to Alzheimer’s and life-threatening health issues, the plaintiff was unable to appear for his deposition or litigation past mediation.
Carbon monoxide poisoning case where clients, living in a ranch home in west Marin County, had only one day of exposure and no residual symptoms.
Wrongful death of 94 year old petite grandmother who ran out into traffic in the middle of the block between parked cars against a red light. Our accident reconstruction expert found no liability- zero-against the driver who hit her.
2016 – Two sisters were exposed to carbon monoxide poisoning from a faulty wall heater in a hotel that didn’t have a carbon monoxide detector. They needed 28 hours of treatment, including oxygen. Medical bills were less than $10,000.
Cyclist gets doored by rideshare car. Bruising and scarring near eye and hand.
2017 – An 86 y.o. lovely woman got on the MUNI bus, and the driver took off before she was seated. She fell and suffered a low back injury. She has a significant past medical history. Her medical bill was a mere $6,000.
Race car professional suffered neuropathic leg pain when race car driver backed up into him, while standing at metal table in hangar. Liability was hotely contested.
2016 – Ms. Guttman had a head-on collision, and suffered a sprained right ankle with surgery.
Court trial in Marin County for breach of plaintiff’s employment contract as an office manager. Plaintiff had both a personal and work relationship with employer, a medical doctor.
Female student was sexually abused by a male student at a local private middle school. The male student had abused other students in the past.
Disputed sexual molestation of high school male student by female teacher at private school.
Plaintiff was the executive assistant for the CEO of a Silicon Valley tech company for only a few years. She was fired for absenteeism and poor work performance; however, plaintiff had a personal relationship with the CEO’s family and claimed that the personal relationship both interfered with her ability to do her office work and lead to her termination.
Elder abuse case involving the death of a client’s father at a skilled nursing facility due to neglect, dehydration, and open wounds. Case settled at early mediation.
Elder abuse case involving the death of a fellow attorney’s mother within a month of moving into an upscale care facility in Marin County, because she was not given medications. Expedited settlement within three months of claim.
Wrongful death of the 20-year-old daughter of Renee and Israel Morales in the San Bruno PG&E gas pipeline explosion, with co-counsel John Feder. We were the second case to go to mediation resulting in one of the highest settlements in history. We also accompanied Renee Morales to the PG&E criminal trial over 5 years later.
Bicyclist suffered broken wrist injury requiring multiple surgeries in no liability case.
Almost 40 years of professional excellence
The Hastings Community Justice Clinic represented a plaintiff in an employment case that Ms. Bogaards successfully mediated in
April 2022. Professor Goishi stated about her experience with Ms. Bogaards:
“We (plaintiff and his representatives) greatly appreciated Ms. Bogaards’ optimism and enthusiasm for the mediation process. This set a very positive tone and framing for the mediation itself. We also appreciated that she was a great listener, and welcomed hearing background information and emotional content that is present in most disputes, but that is often glossed over or ignored. She also did a great job of reality-checking, gently telling us about the potential weaknesses in our case. Finally, we thought it was great that she reminded us that a successful mediation will be one where both parties are unhappy. This was a great reminder of the nature of compromise. She also reiterated the upside of settling, as opposed to taking our chances with proceeding with the litigation — helpful to remind the parties about the risks of proceeding.”
My mediation appointment with Ms. Bogaards was more than interesting as it was conducted exclusively by phone due to the health crisis. Despite this, it went smoothly and productively. The case settled within the allotted time frame due largely in part to Ms. Bogaards persistence but also her vast experience in personal injury work. It was obvious her defense and plaintiff’s background gave her credibility with both parties. All in all, it was all a very positive experience for a first-time use. She was prepared and knew the flash points needed to get this settled. It took time but it was due to the parties obstinance, which she dealt with professionally and civilly. I’ve known Ms. Bogaards over the years from having litigated with her in her role as a defense attorney. I thought this case was perfect for a Mediator with a defense background that also does plaintiff’s work, as she does. I was very impressed with her grasp of value as regards a plaintiff’s case. She was spot on regarding the values and issues. I would not hesitate to use her again and recommend her as a Mediator to all plaintiff’s attorneys who view her strictly as a former defense attorney. She is way more than that; very efficient, there was no wasted time.
Debra Bogaards is one of the most thorough, skilled and aggressive litigators in the Bay Area. She protects her clients and their interests like a mama bear to her cubs. I speak both as a client for whom Ms. Bogaards achieved an incredible result, and as a colleague who has worked beside Ms. Bogaards and has seen her diligence and thought process. Here skillset and tremendous presence and command, regardless of the forum, makes for a most fierce litigator. Ms. Bogaards is always my first recommendation to clients and friends seeking to protect their legal rights relating to personal injuries.