An employee who was unlawfully fired or laid off may be entitled to financial compensation and/or equitable relief through a wrongful termination lawsuit.
This is a complicated question; there is no true straightforward answer.
Some wrongful termination claims are settled for around $10,000, while others are eventually resolved for multi-million dollar awards.
Every California wrongful termination claim must be assessed on a case-by-case basis.
If you were unlawfully terminated, you deserve a settlement that accounts for the true value of your individual damages.
Know Your Damages: Wrongful Termination Settlements
Trying to calculate the average lawsuit settlement for wrongful termination is not the proper way to think about your case.
If you were illegally fired, you deserve the maximum available financial award.
As explained by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the nature of damages available to a plaintiff in an employment law claim — including in a wrongful termination lawsuit — is determined “by the nature and severity of their proven injuries.”
Your settlement will depend entirely on the nature of your case.
If you are bringing a wrongful termination lawsuit, you have the legal burden of proving that you were fired unlawfully and you have the burden of proving the extent of your damages.
Factors that California Wrongful Termination Cases Depend On
Back Pay/Front Pay
Employees may be entitled to both back pay and front pay in their California wrongful termination settlement. Back pay is the amount of wages that the worker would have earned from the employer had they not been unlawfully fired.
Front pay allows workers to seek additional financial relief, should it take time to transition into a new position. Be sure that you have carefully organized your financial documents and employment records.
It’s important to remember that the law expects employees to mitigate their losses. Therefore, even if wrongfully terminated, you should look for a new job as soon as possible. If an employer proves that an employee failed to mitigate their losses, this evidence may support reduction of their compensation award.
Loss of Benefits
An average settlement for wrongful termination in California should also account for the loss of benefits. To calculate loss of benefits, an employee adds the value of wages or salary to other benefits the employee would have received from the employer.
Benefits are calculated for the period of time the employee is expected to continue working for the employer, adjusted for inflation. Loss of benefits includes valuable incentives for the job, including promotions, raises, bonuses, and premiums for health insurance, dental insurance, and vision insurance.
For example, if you were illegally fired and you lost your health insurance, you may have been forced to buy coverage out of your own pocket.
You may also have incurred additional health care costs that would have otherwise been covered by your employer-based plan. Through a wrongful termination claim, you may be able to recover for those damages.
In some cases, employees can seek compensation for emotional distress. Recovering for a non-economic loss like emotional distress can be more challenging than recovering for economic losses, so it is crucial that plaintiffs build a strong, well-documented legal case for their wrongful termination payout.
Wrongful termination lawsuit settlements should include non-economic damages. These non-economic losses represent subjective losses. Therefore, it is difficult to attach a dollar amount to these losses.
Non-economic damages resulting from your wrongful termination, may include:
- Post-traumatic stress disorder, and
- Damage to professional reputation.
In wrongful termination cases in California, it’s best to obtain counseling or therapy to assist in any emotional distress you may feel as a result of your wrongful termination. This serves not only to assist you in dealing with what you are going through but also provides supporting evidence of these damages.
Attorneys’ Fees and Court Costs
Another factor that must be considered in a wrongful termination settlement is the plaintiff’s legal costs. If you were wrongfully terminated in California, your settlement should account for any court costs and for reasonable attorneys’ fees. Simply put, you should not have to pay a lawyer out of your own pocket.
Finally, in especially egregious cases, punitive damages may be available to the plaintiff. As noted by the Cornell Legal Information Institute, punitive damages are awarded to punish the bad actions of the defendant.
Courts may award punitive damages if evidence shows your employer acted with oppression, fraud, or malice. Although rare, punitive damages may be awarded in specific circumstances.
If your case involves an extreme, blatant wrongful termination, you may be able to get a settlement that provides some form of punitive compensation. Due to their purpose of punishing the employer, punitive damage awards often represent double or triple the compensatory damages you may receive for your wrongful termination.
In some cases, an average settlement for wrongful termination in California may include reinstatement of employment. Due to the nature of wrongful termination and hostility between the parties, reinstatement represents a rare remedy. However, for many, this may be a desirable outcome and may be worth exploring as part of your wrongful termination case in California.
Maximize Your Wrongful Termination Settlement By Building a Strong Case
Employers have a strong financial incentive to settle wrongful termination cases for the lowest amount possible.
To obtain a full and fair settlement offer, employees must present a thoroughly documented, compelling legal claim. Part of building a solid claim includes obtaining and retaining any formal documents or evidence supporting your wrongful termination claim. Additionally, it’s a good idea to maintain a detailed log of events soon after they happen.
Similar to other employment law cases, defendants will only truly begin to offer a fair wrongful termination settlement when they recognize that they could be subject to substantial financial liability if the case were to go to trial.
Seek the assistance of a qualified employment lawyer to discuss your wrongful termination payout. In some situations, the deadline to file a claim or lawsuit may be shorter than you anticipate. Act quickly after a suspected wrongful termination to protect your rights.
If you were unlawfully fired, it is imperative that you seek representation from an experienced California wrongful termination lawyer who has the skills and legal experience needed to help you maximize your wrongful termination settlement.
Contact Our Los Angeles, CA Wrongful Termination Attorneys Today
At Workplace Rights Law Group LLP, our California wrongful termination lawyers are committed to helping our clients protect their legal rights and financial interests.
Most of the attorneys at Workplace Rights Law Group spent the bulk of their careers representing employers. We understand the tricks employers often pull to undermine a former employee’s case.
Our firm does not take every case, so we can provide each of our clients with focused and individualized attention. Every case is different. Understanding the unique facts of your case assists in wrongful termination lawsuit settlements.
If you or your loved one was wrongfully discharged, we will help you maximize your settlement offer.