California, like all the other states, is an at-will employment state. This means that your employer can fire you at any time and for whatever reason. However, an employer cannot fire you on unlawful grounds such as based on your race, religion or other protected characteristics. It also means that your employer cannot retaliate against you for participating in a lawful activity like whistleblowing.
If you are fired on unlawful grounds, you may pursue a wrongful termination lawsuit against your employer. However, you do not have the liberty to file this lawsuit at your convenience. Rather, you must do so within the statute of limitations period. If the statute of limitations period runs out, you may lose the right to file a lawsuit. As far as California’s wrongful termination claims go, the statute of limitations largely varies depending on the type of claim you are going for as well as the circumstances of your case.
The statute of limitations and federal complaints
If your employer fired you wrongfully, you can file a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). In this case, you will have very little time to file your claim. Typically, this would be 180 days from the date of the wrongful termination. However, this deadline can be extended to 300 days if the claim is specific claim is also covered by California and local anti-discrimination laws.
The statute of limitations and state complaints
If you are wrongfully terminated from your role, you can file a complaint with California’s Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH). In this case, you will have up to three years from the date of your illegal termination to file a complaint. You will need to file your complaint with DFEH before filing a civil lawsuit against your employer.
Being a victim of wrongful termination can be disheartening. Find out how you can take action against your employer if you are wrongfully terminated.