All that can be said, based on the limited information provided is that if the motivating reason for your termination was because you filed a good faith complaint with regulatory agencies, pertaining to your employer, you may have the basis for a wrongful termination case. Your attorney must have explained this to you.
Is your case strong enough to warrant a lawsuit? No one on Avvo can tell you that. You will need to meet with attorneys who handle these kind of cases for legal opinions about your case and then make a decision which course of action you consider to be in your best interest. There are many employment law attorneys on Avvo. Use the "Find a Lawyer" function to research attorneys in your area who you think may be able to help you. Or go to the website for the California Employment Lawyers Association at www.cela.org and search for CELA members in your area.
They say you get what you pay for, and this response is free, so take it for what it is worth. This is my opinion based on very limited information. My opinion should not be taken as legal advice. For true advice, we would require a confidential consultation where I would ask you questions and get your complete story. This is a public forum, so remember, nothing here is confidential. Nor am I your attorney. I do not know who you are and you have not hired me to provide any legal service. To do so would require us to meet and sign written retainer agreement. My responses are intended for general information only.
You may have a viable whistleblower claim as well as a claim for wrongful termination in violation of public policy.
Whistleblowers are employees who refuse to violate the law, or who report wrongdoing that harms the public or has the potential to harm the public. The wrongdoer can be a private employer, a private entity, a federal, state or local government, or another employee. Usually, but not always, the wrongdoing benefits the person or entity that engages in the wrongdoing. Harm to the public may be caused by inflated prices, dangerous products, environmental harm, and more.
Whistleblowers are protected by law. The purpose of whistleblower protection laws is to allow employees to report, stop or testify about this kind of wrongdoing, as a benefit to the public. Note that complaints about wrongdoing that only harm the employer itself are not protected by whistleblowing laws. Many whistleblower laws have a very short time period in which to file a claim. Please see my Avvo guide to whistleblowers for more information about whistleblowing: http://www.avvo.com/legal-guides/ugc/whistleblowers-and-their-rights?published=true.
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.
If you believe you have been fired or retaliated against in violation of public policy, I urge you to consult with one or more experienced employment law attorneys. 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 www.cela.org, and you can search for attorneys 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.
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. ***
You have received great responses from my colleagues. All I can add is that you should meet with a few attorneys to discuss your case, and if they agree you have a case, hire the one you feel most comfortable with to handle your case. Most attorneys, including myself, offer free consultations for cases like this. So you should feel free to meet with them and see what they say. Nobody can give you specific advice based on the limited facts you have provided here.
Michel & Associates, PC
All my comments here are intended for general legal purposes. None of my comments here establish an attorney-client relationship with anyone. None of my comments should be relied on in taking legal action without first consulting an attorney.
Workplace health and safety regulations Injury from defective and dangerous products Domestic violence and criminal charges Employment Discrimination in the workplace Whistleblowing in the workplace Workplace safety Jury duty and work hours Termination of employment Wrongful termination of employment Government law Lawsuits and disputes State, local, and municipal law Civil rights Discrimination Right to vote