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Do I have grounds for a wrongful termination lawsuit?

Modesto, CA |

My boss put me on a 2 month probation and cut back my hours. After I filed for unemployment, he removed me from the work schedule altogether. I can't prove he fired me because I filed for unemployment, but if you follow the sequence of events, it seems the likely assumption.

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Best Answer

My understanding of your situation is that your employer put you on probation and cut your hours; you filed for unemployment benefits because you were then partially unemployed; after you filed your claim for benefits, your employer stopped giving you any work at all. If these events followed in rapid succession, then I agree that it appears likely the employer took you off the schedule in retaliation for filing for unemployment. Whether this was an unlawful termination, or any kind of termination, is another matter.

If you remained off the schedule for a lengthy period or under peculiar circumstances (and I am not sure how that would be defined in your circumstance) than removing you from the work schedule may be tantamount or equivalent to firing you. The employer doesn't have to use any magic words to end the employment relationship.

Off the top of my head, I don't know if it would be unlawful to fire you for exercising a legal right to file for partial unemployment benefits. My gut tells me it would be, just as it would be illegal to fire you for exercising certain other legal rights. Perhaps another attorney here on Avvo knows and can explain the law in this area.

IF you were fired and IF it was illegal and IF this happened less than two years ago, the next issue is whether your economic losses are large enough to justify pursuing the case. By "large enough," I mean that they must exceed the cost of litigation or it will not make economic sense to go forward with legal action.

Employment law is complicated and fact-specific. You may wish to consult with an experienced plaintiffs employment lawyer. To find a plaintiffs employment attorney in California, please go to the web site of the California Employment Lawyers Association (CELA). CELA is the largest and most influential bar association in the state for attorneys who represent working people. The web site is Click on "Find a CELA Member" and you can search by location and practice area. Many CELA attorneys represent clients throughout the state.

I hope you can resolve your situation and wish you the best.

@MikaSpencer * * * * * * PLEASE READ: 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.


If you cannot prove it, it did not happen. That is the nature of the law.

Furthermore, terminating you for filing unemployment does not make any sense so I doubt that is the reason. Unless he made up some case of misconduct, he will be assessed for your unemployment now especially.

Good luck to you.

This answer should not be construed to create any attorney-client relationship. Such a relationship can be formed only through the mutual execution of an attorney-client agreement. The answer given is based on the extremely limited facts provided and the proper course of action might change significantly with the introduction of other facts. All who read this answer should not rely on the answer to govern their conduct. Please seek the advice of competent counsel after disclosing all facts to that attorney. This answer is intended for California residents only. The answering party is only licensed to practice in the State of California.


Most likely it will be impossible to prove wrongful termination since you filed for unemployment before he fired you.