What is Wrongful Termination in California?

Under California law, an at-will employee may be terminated for almost any reason. However, in some cases, an employee who has been terminated may be able to file a wrongful termination lawsuit against their former employer. This means that by terminating the employee, the employer has violated California law, and the employee should otherwise not have been terminated.

Common Reasons for Wrongful Termination Lawsuits in California

  • Breach of Contract
    • While most employees are considered to be “at-will” employees, meaning they can be let go or quit at any time for almost any reason, not all employees fall into this category. Some employees have contracts that limit their employer’s right to fire them. In this case, the employer may only let the employee go if the employee violates their employment duties, is neglectful of their duties or unable to perform their duties.
  • Unlawful Discrimination
    • California has anti-discrimination laws, meaning that an employer cannot fire you based on age (over the age of 40), race, national origin, ancestry, religion, physical or mental disability, pregnancy, medical condition, genetic information, marital status, sex, gender (including gender identity and expression), sexual orientation or military and veteran status.
  • Unlawful Retaliation
    • If an employee feels that a wrongdoing has been done and submits a complaint, the company cannot retaliate against the employee by terminating them. For example, an employer cannot terminate an employee for filing a worker’s compensation claim, discrimination or harassment complaints, complaints about wage or work conditions, or discussing wage or work conditions with other employees, as long as there is no confidential information discussed.
  • Taking Protected Time Off
    • Non-exempt employees have the right to take time off during protected situations, and under California law, an employer cannot terminate an employee for doing so. Such protected time off includes family and medical leave, maternity leave, sick leave, lactation breaks, voting, military leave, jury duty, and parent/school related activities (in a company of 25 employees or more).
  • Employer Violates Public Policy
    • Public policy is the unwritten principles in which social laws are based, and if violated, it could be determined to be a wrongful termination. Public policy is determined by if constitutional or statutory provisions support it, benefits society at large, is well-established and is fundamental and substantial.

Why You Would Want to Hire a CPA Expert Witness for a Wrongful Termination Case

Wrongful termination cases usually involve economic issues, for which you would want the help of a CPA expert witness. Whether retained by the plaintiff or defendant, the job of the CPA is to calculate the economic damage and help present or rebuke the case for liability by conducting a qualitative analysis of a plaintiff’s performance on the job by comparing it to objective standards.

A CPA is used to determine the economic damage and provide expert witness testimony of wrongful termination by considering several factors, such as:

  • Lost Earnings
    • This is the amount of income lost by the plaintiff if their employer had not terminated them. This can include past and future earnings.
  • Damage Period
    • The damage period refers to the amount of time the plaintiff is expected to be impacted by the termination. In some cases, this is done by calculating the amount of time the plaintiff would reasonably be expected to hold employment with the company, which may be determined by researching company and industry statistics, terminations of similar employees, and the retirement plans, medical records and personal life of the plaintiff.
  • Mitigating Income
    • Following termination, the plaintiff may be considered underemployed or unemployed, and this can impact the perceived economic damage the plaintiff suffered. Several circumstances are taken into consideration when determining mitigating income, such as occupation and field, age, education level, and the amount of time that the plaintiff took to gain employment.

Hiring the right CPA expert witness can have a significant impact on the outcome of your case, so you want to be sure you have someone with decades of expertise. At Thomas & Company, LLP, we have the knowledge and experience to assess and analyze the economic damage that can result from wrongful termination.

Representative Wrongful Termination Engagements

SideCase NumberCase NameAttorneyLaw FirmTestify
Def72 200 0050 93Michael Metcalf, et al. v. The Maryland Insurance GroupBrian S. KabateckQuisenberry & KabateckTrial
DefC665816Jones, et al. v. Financial Corp. of AmericaNeil O. AndrusJeffer, Mangels, Butler & MarmaroDepo
PlnNC011868Maria G. Guerrero v. American National Insurance Company, et al.Diana P. ScottRoss & ScottDepo
DefBC134961Trudy M. Phillips v. Glendale Federal Bank, et al.Julia ZalbaKelley Drye & WarrenDepo
PlnBC247267Anthony Kelly v. United Parcel Service, Inc., et al.Brian A. SunO’Neill, Lysaght & SunDepo / Trial
Pln72 160 00823 01 ARNDebbie Dennis-Johnson, M.D. v. Magan Medical Clinic, Inc.Don S. LemmerCoudert BrothersDepo / Trial
PlnGIC 828206Sunny Chow v. Applied Micro Circuits Corporation, et al.Luan K. PhanRichardson & PatelDepo / Trial
PlnBC 325987Ernest L. Washington, M.D. v. Parthenia Medical Group, Inc., et al.Louis C. ChengLaw Office of Louis C. ChengDepo / Trial
Pln01-03420Mamdoh Aziz Abas aka Mark Abas v. Money Concepts International, IncRobert A. Latham, IIILewis Brisbois Bisgaard & SmithTrial
PlnSC 040814Paola Fann v. All Family DentalBarry M. AppellAppell | HilaireDepo
DefBC 348064Joanne Marie Anthony v. George McNeil, et al.Beth D. OrellanaCity Attorney’s Office, City of Los AngelesTrial
DefBC351889Ya-May Christle v. City of Los Angeles and Deputy Chief Michael BerkowWendy Wen Yun ChangHinshaw & CulbertsonDepo / Trial
DefBC345890Shelby Feldmeier v. City of Los Angeles, et al.Vibiana AndradeCity Attorney’s Office, City of Los AngelesDepo / Trial
DefBC 361139Donald Bender v. City of Los Angeles, et al.Daniel P. AguileraCity Attorney’s Office, City of Los AngelesDepo / Trial
DefBC 358255Joseph Ward-Wallace v. City of Los AngelesRosario M. TobiasOffice of the City AttorneyDepo
DefBC386177Ada Cordero-Sacks v. Housing Authority of the City of Los AngelesCharles E. SlyndstadMorris, Polich & PurdyTrial
PlnSACV 09-1515 JVS(ANx)Ray Brooks v. Allstate Insurance Co.Douglas A. AmesAmes Law OfficeDepo
PlnBC463778Sabiha Khan v. Metropolitan Transportation Authority, et al.Brinda R. GandhiThe Chugh Firm, APCDepo
Def1:13-CV-00336-AWI-BAMDerek Thomason v. City of Fowler, et al.Gregory A. WednerLozano SmithDepo
DefBC 496533George Diego and Allan Corrales v. City of Los Angeles, et al.Daniel P. AguileraCity Attorney’s Office, City of Los AngelesDepo / Trial
DefBC 528691Juanita Patterson-Wright v. Housing Authority of the City of Los AngelesCharles E. SlyngstadBurke, Williams & Sorensen, LLPDepo


Key Sample Wrongful Termination Engagement

Lynda Burton v. First Interstate Bank (Barbara Brown — Brown Law Firm). Mr. Neches testified as an expert in California Superior Court, San Diego County, on behalf of defendant in this wrongful termination matter. Plaintiff’s damages expert calculated lost earnings of $530,000. Mr. Neches testified that there were no economic damages because plaintiff’s new business provided more income than she would have earned if she had stayed at the bank. Result: the judge ruled in favor of the bank.