Like many other states, California is an “at-will” employment state, which means that a private sector employer can terminate an employee at any time, for any reason. Nevertheless, wrongful termination claims can arise when terminations are based on illegal factors. If you believe that you have been fired or laid off for reasons that violate your legal rights, it is in your best interests to consult with an experienced employment lawyer as soon as possible. 

At the Law Office of Michael Hsueh, we have devoted our practice exclusively to representing employees who have been victims of discrimination, retaliation, sexual harassment, or wrongful termination in the workplace. You can rest assured that we have the skills, experience, and dedication to help you protect your rights.


Although private employment is “at-will” in California, and employers can legally fire or lay off employees as they see fit, termination for an impermissible reason can give rise to a wrongful termination claim. Legally impermissible reasons for termination include:

  • Race
  • Religion
  • Gender
  • Age
  • Pregnancy
  • Maternity or pregnancy leave
  • Family medical leave use
  • Sexual orientation
  • Gender identity
  • Gender expression
  • Marital status
  • Veteran status
  • Genetic information
  • Physical or mental disability
  • Political affiliation
  • National origin
  • Health and safety complaint retaliation
  • Labor Code violation complaint retaliation

Many wrongful termination cases in California are brought under the Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA). Whistleblower wrongful termination cases may be brought under the California Labor Code, which protects workers from retaliation for complaints about unhealthy or unsafe working conditions or Labor Code violations, such as missed breaks, unpaid overtime, or improperly classifying an employee as an independent contractor. The Labor Code also protects employees from retaliation for reporting illegal conduct on the part of an employer or refusing to participate in illegal activities in the workplace.


In most wrongful termination cases, the employer has formally terminated the employee for a reason that is not legally permissible. However, wrongful termination claims can also arise from “constructive termination,” when an employee is forced to resign because working conditions have been made so intolerable that no reasonable person could be expected to continue working under those conditions. 

When an employee is subjected to harassment on the basis of gender, disability, sexual orientation, etc., and the harassment is intolerable and allowed to continue with the knowledge of the employer, the employee may have no choice but to resign. In such a case of constructive termination, the employee may be entitled to file a claim for wrongful termination, the same as if he or she had been fired. 


If you have been terminated illegally in California, you may be entitled to recover damages for the harm you have suffered. When you call or email the Law Office of Michael Hsueh for a free consultation, our California wrongful termination attorney can tell you whether or not you have a case, and what damages you may be entitled to claim.

Damages in a wrongful termination claim may include:

  • Past and future lost wages
  • Past and future lost benefits
  • Emotional distress
  • Attorney fees and costs

In some cases of malicious or reprehensible conduct or willful disregard of an employee’s rights, the court may award punitive damages in addition to actual damages compensating the employee for losses suffered. Punitive damages are designed to punish a defendant for outrageous conduct and to help deter such behavior on the part of others in the future.


At the Law Office of Michael Hsueh, we serve clients in the Silicon Valley and the Greater San Francisco Bay Area. California counties we serve include Alameda, Contra Costa, San Francisco, San Mateo, and Santa Clara. We pride ourselves on our client-oriented and individualized approach to litigation.

Attorney Michael Hsueh values his relationships with his clients. He will tailor a legal strategy to fit your needs and handle your case himself, not hand it off to an associate or paralegal. As a client, you will have access to his cell phone and you can expect a quick response when you call or email.

If your employment has been terminated, and you believe your rights have been violated, contact us today. There is no charge for the initial consultation, and when you work with us, we will handle your case on a contingency fee basis. This means that we get paid only when we recover compensation for you. You can rely on the Law Office of Michael Hsueh to fight hard for your rights!