Losing your job is never easy, but being fired for reasons that violate California employment laws can be especially devastating. Fortunately, California has a robust legal framework to protect workers from wrongful termination. However, it’s essential to understand the statutes of limitations to ensure you can pursue your legal rights before time runs out.

Common Types of Discrimination That Lead To Wrongful Termination Claims

Discrimination can take many forms, and some of the most common types of discrimination that lead to wrongful termination claims include racial, religious, disability, and sex/gender discrimination.

Racial discrimination

Racial discrimination is illegal under both California state law and federal law. Employers cannot fire employees because of race, ethnicity, or national origin. You may be entitled to compensation if you’ve been fired because of your race.

Religious discrimination

Employers must also make reasonable accommodations for employees’ religious beliefs and practices. If you’ve been fired because of your religious beliefs or practices, you may be able to file a wrongful termination claim.

Disability discrimination

Disability discrimination occurs when an employer fires an employee because of a disability or a medical condition. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and California’s Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) prohibit employers from discriminating against employees because of a disability or medical condition.

Sex discrimination

Sex discrimination is another common form of wrongful termination. Under both California and federal law, it’s illegal to fire someone because of their gender or sexual orientation. This includes pregnancy discrimination as well.


Employers are prohibited from retaliating against employees who engage in protected activities. This can include seeking workers’ compensation benefits or unpaid leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) or the California Family Rights Act (CFRA).  Workers are also protected for report illegal employer activities.  You might have a valid wrongful termination claim if you were terminated in retaliation for engaging in one of these activities.

Termination in Violation of Public Policy

With at-will employment in California, the employee or employer can terminate the employment relationship at any time for any reason. However, there are certain exceptions to this rule. For example, if you were terminated in violation of a public policy, you may have a case for wrongful termination.

Breach of Contract

If you have a contract with your employer, and your employer terminates your employment in violation of that contract, you may have a case for wrongful termination. As this is the least common type of wrongful termination case, it’s important to consult with an attorney to determine whether you have a valid contract claim.

California Equal Pay Act

The California Equal Pay Act requires employers to pay male and female employees the same wage for substantially similar work. If you believe you were terminated because of your gender and were paid less than a male employee for similar work, you may have a valid wrongful termination claim.

Family Medical Leave Act

The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) and the California Family Rights Act (CFRA) provide certain employees the right to take up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave for specific family or medical reasons. If you were terminated because you took leave under FMLA or CFRA, you might have a valid claim for wrongful termination.

The statute of limitations for varies among the different wrongful termination claims, but can be as short as two years from your last day worked, so consult an attorney as soon as possible to avoid losing any rights.