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

Side Case Number Case Name Attorney Law Firm Testify
Def 72 200 0050 93 Michael Metcalf, et al. v. The Maryland Insurance Group Brian S. Kabateck Quisenberry & Kabateck Trial
Def C665816 Jones, et al. v. Financial Corp. of America Neil O. Andrus Jeffer, Mangels, Butler & Marmaro Depo
Pln NC011868 Maria G. Guerrero v. American National Insurance Company, et al. Diana P. Scott Ross & Scott Depo
Def BC134961 Trudy M. Phillips v. Glendale Federal Bank, et al. Julia Zalba Kelley Drye & Warren Depo
Pln BC247267 Anthony Kelly v. United Parcel Service, Inc., et al. Brian A. Sun O’Neill, Lysaght & Sun Depo / Trial
Pln 72 160 00823 01 ARN Debbie Dennis-Johnson, M.D. v. Magan Medical Clinic, Inc. Don S. Lemmer Coudert Brothers Depo / Trial
Pln GIC 828206 Sunny Chow v. Applied Micro Circuits Corporation, et al. Luan K. Phan Richardson & Patel Depo / Trial
Pln BC 325987 Ernest L. Washington, M.D. v. Parthenia Medical Group, Inc., et al. Louis C. Cheng Law Office of Louis C. Cheng Depo / Trial
Pln 01-03420 Mamdoh Aziz Abas aka Mark Abas v. Money Concepts International, Inc Robert A. Latham, III Lewis Brisbois Bisgaard & Smith Trial
Pln SC 040814 Paola Fann v. All Family Dental Barry M. Appell Appell | Hilaire Depo
Def BC 348064 Joanne Marie Anthony v. George McNeil, et al. Beth D. Orellana City Attorney’s Office, City of Los Angeles Trial
Def BC351889 Ya-May Christle v. City of Los Angeles and Deputy Chief Michael Berkow Wendy Wen Yun Chang Hinshaw & Culbertson Depo / Trial
Def BC345890 Shelby Feldmeier v. City of Los Angeles, et al. Vibiana Andrade City Attorney’s Office, City of Los Angeles Depo / Trial
Def BC 361139 Donald Bender v. City of Los Angeles, et al. Daniel P. Aguilera City Attorney’s Office, City of Los Angeles Depo / Trial
Def BC 358255 Joseph Ward-Wallace v. City of Los Angeles Rosario M. Tobias Office of the City Attorney Depo
Def BC386177 Ada Cordero-Sacks v. Housing Authority of the City of Los Angeles Charles E. Slyndstad Morris, Polich & Purdy Trial
Pln SACV 09-1515 JVS(ANx) Ray Brooks v. Allstate Insurance Co. Douglas A. Ames Ames Law Office Depo
Pln BC463778 Sabiha Khan v. Metropolitan Transportation Authority, et al. Brinda R. Gandhi The Chugh Firm, APC Depo
Def 1:13-CV-00336-AWI-BAM Derek Thomason v. City of Fowler, et al. Gregory A. Wedner Lozano Smith Depo
Def BC 496533 George Diego and Allan Corrales v. City of Los Angeles, et al. Daniel P. Aguilera City Attorney’s Office, City of Los Angeles Depo / Trial
Def BC 528691 Juanita Patterson-Wright v. Housing Authority of the City of Los Angeles Charles E. Slyngstad Burke, Williams & Sorensen, LLP Depo


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.