If you have been wrongfully terminated from your job in California, you may be wondering how long you have to file a lawsuit. The answer depends on the reason for your termination. In this article, you will learn the statute of limitations for various wrongful termination cases in California.
Breach of implied contract – 2 years
If you don’t have an employment contract but have been fired in violation of an implied agreement not to terminate except for good cause, you have two years from the termination date to file a lawsuit. This statute of limitations applies to breaches of contracts and oral contracts, including non-written employment contracts. However, cases based on a violation of an implied contract are rare.
Violation of public policy – 2 years
If you have been fired for refusing to break the law, performing a legal obligation, exercising a legal privilege or right, or reporting a potential violation of an important law, your termination violates public policy. California wrongful termination law gives workers a cause of action in these situations, even if their employment status is explicitly at-will. You can file a lawsuit for wrongful termination in violation of public policy within two years of the termination date.
FEHA retaliation – 3 years
Suppose you have been terminated in retaliation for exercising your rights under California’s Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA). In that case, you have three years from the termination date to file an administrative complaint with the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH).
Once you receive a notice of right to sue letter from the DFEH, you have one more year to file a wrongful termination lawsuit against your employer. FEHA retaliation terminations are similar to those that violate public policy.
For instance, if you have opposed or filed a complaint about workplace harassment or sexual harassment or challenged the employer’s refusal to grant leave under an applicable pregnancy, family, or medical leave act, you have a case for wrongful termination.
Violation of WARN Act – 3 years
The California Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification (WARN) Act requires employers to give employees at least 60 days’ notice before a mass layoff, plant closure, or major relocation.
The WARN Act covers employers if they have employed at least 75 employees in the last 12 months. If your termination was done under a mass layoff and violated the WARN Act, you have a three-year statute of limitations to file a lawsuit.
Whistleblower retaliation and Sarbanes-Oxley Act – 3 years/4 years
If you blew the whistle on suspected securities fraud by your employer, you have protections under the federal Sarbanes-Oxley Act. Workers who have been wrongfully terminated under this Act must file an administrative complaint within 180 days. The Department of Labor then has 180 days to act on the complaint. This lawsuit must be filed within four years of the termination date.
Workers who have reported wage and hour law violations to the Labor Commissioner or brought evidence of the employer’s suspected criminal activity to a law enforcement or government agency are also protected under California Labor Code section 1102.5 LAB. Claims made under this statute have to be filed within three years.
Understanding the statute of limitations for wrongful termination statute of limitations in California can be complex. An employment lawyer or a wrongful termination lawyer from a reputable law firm can help you understand the time you have to file your civil action.
If you believe you have been wrongfully terminated, don’t wait too long to seek legal help. The clock is ticking, and time is not on your side.