San Francisco Wrongful Termination Lawyers Help Employees

All employees deserve to be treated fairly by their employers.

However, the unfortunate reality is that employers frequently evade the law. At the McCormack Law Firm, San Francisco employment lawyer Bryan McCormack aggressively pursues wrongful termination claims against all types of employers. Attorney McCormack has over 20 years of experience representing employees who have been wronged by their employers and has a track record of success across all areas of California employment law.

McCormack Promise
Employee wrongfully terminated

If you have been wrongfully terminated, you may be entitled to compensation, including compensatory and punitive damages.

California is an at-will employment state

However, while California is an at-will employment state, employers cannot fire an employee for an illegal reason, including:

  • Violation of state or federal anti-discrimination laws

  • Retaliation for making a discrimination or harassment claim or participating in an investigation

  • Reporting workplace safety violations

  • Requesting payment of due wages, overtime, or commissions

  • Reporting any other illegal acts by an employer or its managers, employees, or agents

McCormack Law Firm will work tirelessly until you have justice.

Being fired from a job can have unimaginable consequences on an employee and their family. Not only must a terminated employee face the sudden loss of income, but then they are left with the responsibility of finding new employment which is often made more difficult because of the fact that they were fired.

Wrongful termination statistics

From 1997 to 2018, 1,889,631 discrimination complaints were filed with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).

According to data from the EEOC, between 2015 and 2019 discrimination complaints included:

A total of 414,235 discrimination cases were filed. These included 140,440 race discrimination complaints, 127,122 sex discrimination complaints, and 130,722 disability discrimination complaints.

These complaints break down in similar proportions with 33.9 percent of total discrimination cases being race discrimination complaints, 30.6 percent being sex discrimination complaints, and 31.6 percent being disability discrimination complaints.

Race discrimination complaints are most common:

Most common types of workplace discrimination

Companies are more likely to fire older employees because they are more expensive to keep on the payroll.

According to statistics from Glassdoor, 61 percent of respondents have personally or as a witness experienced workplace discrimination. And 48 percent of workers over 50 report having seen or experienced age discrimination in the workplace.

In fact, over 60 percent of people over 70 have unexpectedly lost a job at some point in their career.

What is wrongful termination in California?

Employees may have heard that California is an “at-will” employment state, meaning either an employee or an employer can terminate the employment relationship at any time with or without “cause.” The effect this has on you is that your employer can fire you at any time, without any notice, for any reason or no reason at all. Even firing you for a bad reason or for a false reason might not necessarily mean you have a strong case unless you fall within one of the exceptions to the at-will rule.

Exceptions to at-will employment

Under California law, there are several exceptions to the at-will employment arrangement. For example, the following employees may not be considered an at-will employee:

Employees in the public sector

Employees in the public sector are not bound by the at-will rule.

Employees belonging to a labor union

Or, those covered by a collective bargaining agreement stating that the at-will rule does not apply.

Employees with certain contracts

Employees with written employment contracts requiring “good cause” for termination.

Certain employer actions

Employees whose employers’ actions overcome the presumption of at-will employment.

Few employees belong to one of the above categories. However, no California employee may be fired for an illegal reason, including:

Being a member of a protected class

Including race, color, disability, medical condition, sex, national origin, age, family status, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity, genetic information or veteran status

Reporting in good faith

Complaining in good faith of discrimination or harassment, or participating in an investigation, or reporting any other illegal activity.

Requesting payment

Requesting payment of all due wages, overtime or commissions

Independent contractor status

While independent contractors may not have all of these protections, many contractors are misclassified, and it is best to check with an employment attorney.

The McCormack Law Firm has over 20 years’ experience in successfully helping employees hold their employer accountable for illegal actions. Call for a free consultation today or fill out our contact form.

Retaliation claims against California employers

San Francisco workplace protection lawyer

Statistics show that the majority of people who experience discrimination or safety violations in the workplace do not report it. Often this is due to fear of being fired.

Under state and federal laws, California employers cannot fire an employee based on the fact that they engaged in any of the following conduct:

  • Reported workplace discrimination or harassment

  • Resisted sexual harassment, or protested any inappropriate, sexually-themed workplace activity

  • Requested pregnancy leave

  • Used company sick leave, or requested time off under California Paid Sick Leave

  • Requested medical leave to care for a serious health condition, a sick loved one or newborn baby

  • Requesting an employer provide a legally-required meal or rest breaks

What if I think I have been wrongfully terminated?

Often, employees can pick up on signals from their employers before they are fired. Those employees who are afraid that they may be fired can take certain precautions now to protect their rights:


Document Everything

Should an employee challenge an employer’s decision to terminate them, it will be important that the employee has documentation of what was going on at the time immediately before they were fired. Employees should document, in writing, all illegal activity that they have witnessed and send it to a supervisor or the human resources department. Always keep a separate copy of these records not on a work computer.


Obtain records

Without violating the law, employees should obtain all relevant records related to their claim. This may include performance evaluations, timecards, pay stubs, internal memos or emails, and copies of the company’s policies.


Be cooperative

If an employer responds to a complaint by initiating an investigation, an employee should fully cooperate. An employee’s failure to do so could result in the employer using that fact against the employee later on. However, employees should document as accurately as possible the conversations related to the investigation.


Keep calm

While it will be difficult, employees should try to stay polite and professional, even if their employer is not. An employee who loses their temper at work might end up giving the employer a valid reason to terminate their employment.


Gather witnesses

If any other employees, customers, vendors or other people in the workplace witnessed any of the employer’s illegal activity or comments, employees should be sure to obtain their name and contact information.


Stand up for your rights

Often, employers who start to “see the writing on the wall” will offer an employee a severance package if they are willing to sign away their rights to pursue an employment claim. While that may seem to be an easy solution to the problem, the nominal amount of money obtained may be only a fraction of what a claim is worth. Additionally, by keeping quiet an employee is implicitly allowing the employer to continue their illegal employment practices..

Tips for handling retaliation and wrongful termination

Tell your story

Employers routinely claim they fired an employee for a legitimate reason like performance when the real reason behind the termination was retaliatory. However, when an employer fires a worker who complained about something illegal, it casts doubt on the employer’s story.

The strength in the case lies in who has the better story – that is, was the employee a whistleblower who suffered retaliation, or just a bad employee who was legitimately fired. Long term employees, or those with good performance history tend to have stronger claims. However even short-term employees may have an excellent case if the retaliation is truly egregious.

Afraid of being fired?

According to a recent study, nearly half of all employees reported fearing that they would be fired or laid off in the near future. For younger workers, millennials in particular, the percentage of concerned employees was even higher. Of course, an employee cannot file a wrongful termination case until they have been fired.

For those who have been fired, consulting with an attorney is critical step in holding an employer accountable. Employers will not admit to wrongfully terminating an employee, and often provide detailed reasons to justify their employment decision. With a dedicated California employment lawyer’s assistance, employees can ensure that a thorough investigation will take place, revealing an employer’s true motivations.

What if I was laid off?

Where there is a legitimate business reason for termination, a wrongful termination case may fail, even where the employee has suffered some harm. A large-scale layoff is often viewed by courts as one such legitimate business reason. However you may still have a good case if, for instance, you were the only one laid off in the company, or in your work group; or if the employer actually replaced you after you were “laid off.”

Wrongful Termination Frequently Asked Questions

Contact an Experienced Bay Area Wrongful Termination Lawyer Today

If you have been fired, and you believe that your former employer did so based on an illegal reason, you may be entitled to compensation through a California wrongful termination lawsuit. At the McCormack Law Firm, Attorney Bryan McCormack has been representing employees in wrongful termination lawsuits for the past 20 years.

You have the right to be treated fairly by your employer

Bryan. McCormack has a keen understanding of employers’ legal responsibilities, and will perform the diligent, painstaking work required to uncover the truth behind an employer’s actions. Regardless of your job title, the number of hours you work, or how much you are paid, you have the right to be treated fairly by your employer. We handle all types of California employment law claims, including wrongful termination claims, sexual harassment claims and retaliation claims. We also handle wage theft, unpaid overtime, commissions, missed meal breaks and many other employment issues. To learn more, and to schedule a free consultation to speak with an attorney about your situation, call (415) 925-5161.

Client testimonials

I can honestly say that my experience with Bryan was all the way positive from day one… We had very high expectations about our case and in the end we got what we hoped for. – Roger J.