Unfortunately, it is probably too late for you to take legal action. The statute of limitation (time limit) to file a lawsuit for wrongful termination in violation of public policy is two years. Under very limited circumstances, that time may be extended, but I am not aware of anything that would extend a claim for a termination for five years.
Before you spend a lot of time pursuing this, you may want to understand a bit about the law of wrongful termination. When people talk about “wrongful termination,” they are really talking about wrongful termination in violation of public policy. For a termination to be “wrongful,” it must violate a public policy.
Public policy refers only to things that are specifically prohibited by a statute (law) enacted by the legislature, or prohibited by a regulation promulgated (established) by a government agency. An employer cannot change terms of employment or fire you if the reason for the change is against the law. For example, an employer cannot increase your workload because of your race, sex, national origin, religion, etc., because you blew the whistle on safety violations, because sat for jury duty, or for any other reason that the law protects.
One of the most widely-known areas of public policy includes statutes prohibiting discrimination against people in specific protected groups, which include sex, race, national origin, disability, sexual orientation, age (40 years and older), religion, marital status and pregnancy.
In this context, “discrimination” means to treat differently from others who are not in the same protected group, but are similarly situated. “Discrimination” does not mean an employer has to be fair, or has to make good decisions.
In California, a person complaining of discrimination must file a claim with an administrative agency before he or she can file a lawsuit. The person can file a claim with either the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing within on year of the discriminatory act, or with the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) within 300 days of the discriminatory act.
As mentioned above, public policy also protects people who blow the whistle on a matter of public concern, complain about improper wage and hour practices, or who exercise voting rights, family leave rights, jury duty rights, domestic violence rights, and a few more statutes. There are various ways to enforce these rights.
I wish you the best.
twitter.com/MikaSpencer *** All legal actions have time limits, called statutes of limitation. If you miss the... more
twitter.com/MikaSpencer *** All legal actions have time limits, called statutes of limitation. If you miss the deadline for filing your claim, you will lose the opportunity to pursue your case. Please consult with an experienced employment attorney as soon as possible to better preserve your rights. *** Marilynn Mika Spencer provides information on Avvo as a service to the public, primarily when general information may be of assistance. Avvo is not an appropriate forum for an in-depth response or a detailed analysis. These comments are for information only and should not be considered legal advice. Legal advice must pertain to specific, detailed facts. No attorney-client relationship is created based on this information exchange. *** Marilynn Mika Spencer is licensed to practice law before all state and federal courts in California, and can appear before administrative agencies throughout the country. She is eligible to represent clients in other states on a pro hac vice basis. ***
Very likely the time limits for any legal complaint have passed. But you can talk with a local employment attorney if there are some extraordinary reasons that account for the delay. In a few very narrow and very limited circumstances, time limits are extended by factual situations.
My responses to questions on Avvo are never intended as legal advice and must not be relied upon as legal advice.... more
My responses to questions on Avvo are never intended as legal advice and must not be relied upon as legal advice. I give legal advice only in the course of an attorney-client relationship. Exchange of information through Avvo's Questions forum does not establish an attorney-client relationship with me. That relationship is established only by individual consultation and execution of a written agreement for legal services.
The statute of limitations has passed to bring a wrongful termination complaint. Also, the statute of limitations for any other employment law claim such as unpaid wages, etc. would have passed in your case as well.