Wrongful Termination in Violation of Public Policy:
What Rights do California Employees Have?

Under California employment law, a wrongful termination in violation of public policy occurs when an employer fires an employee for:

  1. Refusing to break the law;
  2. Performing a legal obligation;
  3. Exercising a legal right or privilege; or
  4. Reporting a potential violation of an important law.1

The law of wrongful discharge in violation of public policy is an exception to the general rule of at-will employment in California labor law. At-will employment means that in most cases employers can terminate employees for any or no reason unless an employment contract (which can include an implied contract) says otherwise.2

But the public policy exception to at-will employment provides that even at-will employees have a right to sue their employers if they are wrongfully terminated for one of the activities listed above.

Fired-employee-carrying-box
The public policy exception to at-will employment in California means that employees may sue their employer if they are fired for the wrong reasons.

Below, our California employment and wrongful termination lawyers answer the following frequently asked questions about the public policy exception to at-will employment in California:

If you have further questions after reading this article, we invite you to contact us at Shouse Law Group.

1. What is Wrongful Termination in Violation of Public Policy in California?

In California labor law, wrongful termination in violation of public policy occurs when an employer fires an employee for exercising a legal right or performing a legal obligation, provided that the legal right or obligation is connected to an important public policy.3

Specifically, this means that an employee has the right to sue their employer for wrongful termination if the employer has fired them for doing one of the following:

  1. Refusing to violate a statute;
  2. Performing a statutory obligation (that is, a legal duty);
  3. Exercising a statutory right or privilege; or
  4. Reporting an alleged violation of a statute of public importance.4

Refusing to violate a statute

Under California public policy wrongful discharge law, an employer may not retaliate against you--including by firing you--for refusing to break the law.5

Handcuffs-around-word-fraud
If your employer fires you for refusing to commit fraud or break the law, then you may have a case for public policy wrongful termination.

Example: Karina is a teacher at a preschool. She is familiar with state requirements for student-teacher ratio.

Karina notices that sometimes the preschool director assigns students to classes in a way that leads to a higher student-teacher ratio than the law allows. The preschool director asks Karina to create a new set of falsified attendance records that would make it look as if the school had in fact met student-teacher ratio requirements.

Karina worries that this would lead to her being charged with the crime of forgery. She refuses. A week later, the director fires her.

Even though she is an at-will employee, Karina should be able to sue the preschool for wrongful termination under the public policy exception to the California at-will rule.

Performing a statutory obligation

California wrongful termination law also provides that an employer may not fire you for performing a statutory obligation--that is, a legal duty.6

For example, California labor law says that employers may not terminate employees for:

  • Taking time off to serve on a jury;
  • Taking time off to serve as a witness in court in compliance with a subpoena or other court order;7 or
  • Taking time off for military service.8

Exercising a statutory right or privilege

California wrongful termination law also provides that it is wrongful discharge in violation of public policy for an employer to terminate an employee for exercising a right or privilege granted to them by law.9

Examples of this form of public policy wrongful termination are

Reporting a violation of law

Many lawsuits over wrongful discharge in violation of public policy involve a situation where an employee was wrongfully terminated for reporting a violation of law at their employer--to the government, law enforcement or another department in the company.

Keyboard-with-key-reading-crime
Your employer may not terminate you for reporting a violation of law.

Example: June gets a job as a receptionist at a private medical clinic. She soon realizes that one of the doctors in the practice is writing suspiciously large numbers of prescriptions for powerful painkillers and may be committing California prescription fraud

June reports her observations to another doctor in the practice, but he does nothing about it. She then reports what she has seen to the Medical Board of California.

A week later, June is fired. No reason is given.

June can probably sue the medical office for wrongful termination in violation of public policy. The facts of her case strongly suggest that she was fired for reporting the potential prescription fraud.

This form of wrongful termination in violation of public policy--that is, when an employer fires an employee for reporting a potential violation of law-- is often referred to as "whistleblower retaliation."

Several specific federal and California laws provide additional support for employees who want to assert their rights after being fired for whistleblower activities. These include

Another form of termination that is arguably a form of public policy wrongful termination is termination in violation of the California WARN Act. The WARN Act requires employers to provide 60 days' advance notice of mass layoffs, including those due to plant closures or relocations. If your employer terminates you without the required notice, you may be entitled to WARN Act damages.

 Required nexus between public policy and termination

One important point that plaintiffs in wrongful termination suits based on public policy need to prove is that there was a "nexus" between the employer's public policy violation and the employee's termination.16

Supervisor-firing-employee
A successful public policy wrongful termination suit requires a "nexus" between your firing and the employer's public policy violation.

This means that there needs to be a clear causal connection between the public policy problem (the employer's request that you do something illegal, your reporting of a violation) and your termination.

Example: James works in sales for a brewery. He believes that the company may be violating laws related to alcoholic beverages and reports this suspicion within the company. Supervisors in the company investigate James' claims but find no evidence of wrongdoing.

James continues to work in his job and receives positive performance reviews.

Four years later, James is terminated from his job.

James cannot prevail in a public policy wrongful discharge lawsuit because he cannot show a nexus between his reporting activities and his firing.17

2. Which Laws Can Support a Lawsuit Against My Employer for Public Policy Wrongful Termination?

Most public policy wrongful termination cases involve a federal or state law--a law that an employee was fired for refusing to violate, a law that an employee was fired for reporting a violation of, etc. But it is not the case that every law or regulation on the books will support an employee's lawsuit for wrongful termination in violation of public policy.

California courts have decided that employees have a cause of action for public policy wrongful termination only if the public policy in question meets the following criteria:

  1. The policy is set forth in a statute or constitutional provision;
  2. The policy serves the interests of the public rather than that of the individual;
  3. The policy was well-established at the time of the wrongful termination; and
  4. The policy is "substantial and fundamental."18

The first of these requirements is straightfoward--you need to be able to point to a specific statutory or constitutional provision that sets out the public policy that was violated by your wrongful discharge.

Law-books
A policy involved in a public policy wrongful termination must be set forth in a law or constitutional provision.

The second--that the public policy serve the interests of the public--is also usually easy to prove, since most laws are designed for the public benefit. Policies that have been found to serve the interests of the public include:

The third requirement--that the public policy be well-established--means that you cannot successfully sue for public policy wrongful termination on the basis of a law that didn't exist or wasn't clear when you were fired.

Example: Barbara's employer asks all employees to submit a urine sample for a drug test. Barbara refuses to do so and is fired.

Several years after Barbara loses her job, a state appellate court holds that the California Constitution sets out a right of privacy that is violated when someone is forced to provide a urine sample against their will.

But Barbara does not have a cause of action for public policy wrongful termination on this basis--because the policy was not established by court decision until after she was fired.22

Finally, a public policy can only support a wrongful termination lawsuit if it is "substantial and fundamental." 

Courts have a great deal of discretion in interpreting this phrase, which is quite vague. Most significant laws and constitutional provisions are likely to be considered substantial and fundamental.

However, California courts deciding public policy wrongful termination suits have held that the following policies are NOT substantial and fundamental:

  • Policy against control of religious speech in the workplace where the employer is a religious organization;23
  • Labor laws prohibiting workplace discrimination based on voluntary participation in alcohol or drug rehabilitation programs;24 and
  • An employee's right to sue customers or clients of the employer.25

3. What is Wrongful Constructive Termination in Violation of Public Policy?

The concept of "wrongful constructive termination" / "wrongful constructive discharge" in California law can allow you to sue your employer for public policy wrongful discharge even if you were not actually fired from your job.

Employee-resigning-from-job
Public policy wrongful termination can include wrongful constructive termination.

Constructive termination / constructive discharge occurs when an employer makes working conditions so intolerable for an employee that s/he has no choice but to resign.26

In order to bring a successful public policy wrongful termination lawsuit based on a constructive termination theory, you need to show that your employer EITHER intentionally created OR knowingly permitted working conditions that were so intolerable at the time of your resignation that a reasonable employer would realize that a reasonable employee in your position would feel compelled to resign.27

Example: Javier works for a construction contractor. He observes several other employees, including his own supervisor, sexually harassing the company's one female employee.

Javier tells the company's human resources department about the sexual harassment, and several of the offending employees are disciplined.

Shortly after this incident, Javier's supervisor starts assigning him to all the most physically demanding tasks on the construction site, which previously had been spread between all the employees. Javier starts to experience physical pain and minor injuries as a result of this work. As a result, he quits the job.

Javier may have a case for wrongful constructive termination in violation of public policy.

4. What Damages Can I Recover in a Public Policy Wrongful Termination Lawsuit in California?

There are several different kinds of damages that you may be able to recover if you successfully sue your employer for wrongfully discharging you in violation of public policy. These include:

  1. Lost wages and benefits--that is, the lost pay and the value of any employee benefits that you could reasonably have expected to earn had you not been wrongfully terminated in violation of public policy. Note that this amount will be reduced by the amount of wages and benefits that you actually earned, or could have earned, from substantially similar employment after your termination.28
  2. Damages for emotional distress/pain and suffering arising from your public policy wrongful termination -- which may include compensation for physical pain, mental suffering, loss of enjoyment of life, grief, anxiety, or humiliation.29
Gavel-on-cash
You can recover both lost wages and damages for pain and suffering in a suit for wrongful termination in violation of public policy.

In certain kinds of cases, you may also be able to collect attorney's fees from your defendant after a successful suit for wrongful termination in violation of public policy. This is only possible in wrongful termination cases arising out of specific statutes that provide for awards of attorney's fees for successful employee-plaintiffs, such as wrongful termination under the Fair Employment and Housing Act and wrongful termination under Sarbanes-Oxley.30

And in a few cases, an employee may be able to receive punitive damages. Punitive damages are designed to punish the employer for its behavior and do not need to be related to any economic or non-economic loss you suffered. Punitive damages are only awarded in public policy wrongful termination cases where the employer is found to be guilty of oppression, fraud or malice.31

5. Is There a Statute of Limitations for Suing My Employer for Wrongful Termination in Violation of Public Policy?

There are statutes of limitations--that is, deadlines for filing a lawsuit--for wrongful termination in violation of public policy in California.

For most public policy wrongful discharge lawsuits, the statute of limitations is two (2) years from the date of your termination.32

Gavel-scales-indicating-lawsuit
You have two years to file a lawsuit for most public policy wrongful termination claims in California.

But be warned: responses to certain kinds of wrongful termination in violation of public policy have shorter deadlines for filing a suit or complaint. For instance, if you are fired in retaliation for complaining about discrimination or harassment at work, you need to file a complaint with the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing within one (1) year.33

For this reason--and we cannot emphasize enough--it is a good idea to contact a California employment attorney as soon as possible if you think you may have been wrongly terminated in violation of public policy.

6. May I Sue an Employer for Public Policy Wrongful Termination Even If I Was Not Actually an Employee?

Under California law, you cannot sue an employer for public policy wrongful termination if you were an independent contractor rather than an employee.34

But it is an open question whether job applicants can sue employers under public policy wrongful termination laws if the employer refused to hire them for reasons that violate public policy, since California courts have not considered that question.

Call us for help...

Employment-law-firm-call-center

For questions about wrongful termination in violation of public policy or to discuss your case confidentially with one of our skilled California labor and employment attorneys, do not hesitate to contact us at Shouse Law Group.

We have local employment law offices in and around Los Angeles, San Diego, Orange County, Riverside, San Bernardino, Ventura, San Jose, Oakland, the San Francisco Bay area, and several nearby cities.


Legal References:

  1. Turner v. Anheuser-Busch, Inc. (1994) 7 Cal.4th 1238, 1256. ("Tort claims for wrongful discharge [in violation of public policy] typically arise when an employer retaliates against an employee for “(1) refusing to violate a statute ... [,] (2) performing a statutory obligation ... [,] (3) exercising a statutory right or privilege ... [, or] (4) reporting an alleged violation of a statute of public importance.")
  2. Labor Code 2922 LC -- Termination at will upon notice; employment for a specified term [general rule of at-will employment]. ("An employment, having no specified term, may be terminated at the will of either party on notice to the other. Employment for a specified term means an employment for a period greater than one month.")
  3. Labor Code 1102.5 LC -- Employer or person acting on behalf of employer; prohibition of disclosure of information by employee to government or law enforcement agency; suspected violation or noncompliance to federal or state law; retaliation; civil penalties [public policy wrongful termination]. ("(b) An employer, or any person acting on behalf of the employer, shall not retaliate against an employee for disclosing information, or because the employer believes that the employee disclosed or may disclose information, to a government or law enforcement agency, to a person with authority over the employee or another employee who has the authority to investigate, discover, or correct the violation or noncompliance, or for providing information to, or testifying before, any public body conducting an investigation, hearing, or inquiry, if the employee has reasonable cause to believe that the information discloses a violation of state or federal statute, or a violation of or noncompliance with a local, state, or federal rule or regulation, regardless of whether disclosing the information is part of the employee's job duties. (c) An employer, or any person acting on behalf of the employer, shall not retaliate against an employee for refusing to participate in an activity that would result in a violation of state or federal statute, or a violation of or noncompliance with a local, state, or federal rule or regulation. (d) An employer, or any person acting on behalf of the employer, shall not retaliate against an employee for having exercised his or her rights under subdivision (a), (b), or (c) in any former employment.")
  4. Turner v. Anheuser-Busch, Inc., endnote 1 above.
  5. Tameny v. Atlantic Richfield Co. (1980) 27 Cal.3d 167, 178. ("We hold that an employer's authority over its employee does not include the right to demand that the employee commit a criminal act to further its interests, and an employer may not coerce compliance with such unlawful directions by discharging an employee who refuses to follow such an order. An employer engaging in such conduct violates a basic duty imposed by law upon all employers, and thus an employee who has suffered damages as a result of such discharge may maintain a tort action for wrongful discharge [in violation of public policy] against the employer.")
  6. Turner v. Anheuser-Busch, Inc., endnote 1 above.
  7. Labor Code 230 LC -- Public policy wrongful discharge for fulfilling a legal obligation. ("(a) An employer shall not discharge or in any manner discriminate against an employee for taking time off to serve as required by law on an inquest jury or trial jury, if the employee, prior to taking the time off, gives reasonable notice to the employer that the employee is required to serve. (b) An employer shall not discharge or in any manner discriminate or retaliate against an employee, including, but not limited to, an employee who is a victim of a crime, for taking time off to appear in court to comply with a subpoena or other court order as a witness in any judicial proceeding. . . . (g) (1) An employee who is discharged, threatened with discharge, demoted, suspended, or in any other manner discriminated or retaliated against in the terms and conditions of employment by his or her employer because the employee has taken time off for a purpose set forth in subdivision (a) or (b) shall be entitled to reinstatement and reimbursement for lost wages and work benefits caused by the acts of the employer.")
  8. Military & Veterans Code 394 MVC -- Public policy wrongful discharge for fulfilling a legal obligation. ("(d) No employer or officer or agent of any corporation, company, or firm, or other person, shall discharge any person from employment because of the performance of any ordered military duty or training or by reason of being an officer, warrant officer, or enlisted member of the military or naval forces of this state, or hinder or prevent that person from performing any military service or from attending any military encampment or place of drill or instruction he or she may be called upon to perform or attend by proper authority;  prejudice or harm him or her in any manner in his or her employment, position, or status by reason of performance of military service or duty or attendance at military encampments or places of drill or instruction;  or dissuade, prevent, or stop any person from enlistment or accepting a warrant or commission in the California National Guard or Naval Militia by threat or injury to him or her in respect to his or her employment, position, status, trade, or business because of enlistment or acceptance of a warrant or commission. . . . (g) Any person violating this section is guilty of a misdemeanor.  In addition, any person violating any of the provisions of this section shall be liable for actual damages and reasonable attorney's fees incurred by the injured party.")
  9. Turner v. Anheuser-Busch, Inc., endnote 1 above.
  10. Labor Code 1102 LC -- Coercion or influence of political activities of employees [public policy wrongful termination over political speech]. ("No employer shall coerce or influence or attempt to coerce or influence his employees through or by means of threat of discharge or loss of employment to adopt or follow or refrain from adopting or following any particular course or line of political action or political activity.")
  11. Labor Code 923 LC -- Right to organize in union [potential basis for public policy wrongful discharge lawsuit]. ("In the interpretation and application of this chapter, the public policy of this State is declared as follows: Negotiation of terms and conditions of labor should result from voluntary agreement between employer and employees. Governmental authority has permitted and encouraged employers to organize in the corporate and other forms of capital control. In dealing with such employers, the individual unorganized worker is helpless to exercise actual liberty of contract and to protect his freedom of labor, and thereby to obtain acceptable terms and conditions of employment. Therefore it is necessary that the individual workman have full freedom of association, self-organization, and designation of representatives of his own choosing, to negotiate the terms and conditions of his employment, and that he shall be free from the interference, restraint, or coercion of employers of labor, or their agents, in the designation of such representatives or in self-organization or in other concerted activities for the purpose of collective bargaining or other mutual aid or protection.")
  12. Labor Code 98.6 LC -- Right to file wage/hour complaints [potential basis for wrongful termination based on public policy]. (" (a) A person shall not discharge an employee or in any manner discriminate, retaliate, or take any adverse action against any employee or applicant for employment because the employee or applicant engaged in any conduct delineated in this chapter, including the conduct described in subdivision (k) of Section 96, and Chapter 5 (commencing with Section 1101) of Part 3 of Division 2, or because the employee or applicant for employment has filed a bona fide complaint or claim or instituted or caused to be instituted any proceeding under or relating to his or her rights that are under the jurisdiction of the Labor Commissioner, made a written or oral complaint that he or she is owed unpaid wages, or because the employee has initiated any action or notice pursuant to Section 2699, or has testified or is about to testify in a proceeding pursuant to that section, or because of the exercise by the employee or applicant for employment on behalf of himself, herself, or others of any rights afforded him or her. (b) (1) Any employee who is discharged, threatened with discharge, demoted, suspended, retaliated against, subjected to an adverse action, or in any other manner discriminated against in the terms and conditions of his or her employment because the employee engaged in any conduct delineated in this chapter, including the conduct described in subdivision (k) of Section 96, and Chapter 5 (commencing with Section 1101) of Part 3 of Division 2, or because the employee has made a bona fide complaint or claim to the division pursuant to this part, or because the employee has initiated any action or notice pursuant to Section 2699 shall be entitled to reinstatement and reimbursement for lost wages and work benefits caused by those acts of the employer.")
  13. 18 United States Code ("U.S.C.") 1514A -- Sarbanes-Oxley whistleblower protections [form of public policy wrongful termination].
  14. Government Code 12652 - 12653 GC -- California qui tam law [form of public policy wrongful termination].
  15. Government Code 12940 GC -- Public policy wrongful termination over FEHA-protected activities.
  16. Turner v. Anheuser-Busch, Inc., 7 Cal.4th at 1258-59. ("But Turner's claim of whistle-blower harassment [harassment/termination in violation of public policy] fails because he cannot demonstrate the required nexus between his reporting of alleged statutory violations and his allegedly adverse treatment by ABI. Turner's reporting activity occurred some four to five years before the negative performance evaluations that Turner maintains caused him to quit. Indeed, contrary to the dissent, there is no indication in the record that management regarded Turner as a disloyal employee and troublemaker for his reporting of illegal activity. In response to Turner's complaints, ABI managers did not dismiss his concerns or admonish him to cease communication, but investigated and made their own determinations that illegal activity was not taking place. The ABI managers receiving Turner's reports were not on the scene when other ABI managers later found his performance less than satisfactory. Turner's performance evaluations and status within ABI were generally satisfactory throughout the three-year period following his complaints. On their face, the evaluations appear to be regularly prepared and well documented.")
  17. Based on the facts of the same.
  18. City of Moorpark v. Superior Court (1998) 18 Cal.4th 1143, 1159. ("In Stevenson, we articulated a four-part test for determining whether a particular policy can support a common law wrongful discharge claim. The policy “must be: (1) delineated in either constitutional or statutory provisions; (2) 'public' in the sense that it 'inures to the benefit of the public' rather than serving merely the interests of the individual; (3) well established at the time of the discharge; and (4) substantial and fundamental.”")
  19. Tameny v. Atlantic Richfield Co., endnote 5 above.
  20. City of Moorpark v. Superior Court, endnote 18 above.
  21. Petermann v. International Brotherhood of Teamsters, Chauffeurs, Warehousemen & Helpers of America, Local 396 (1959) 174 C.A.2d 184.
  22. Based on the facts of Luck v. Southern Pacific Transportation Co. (1990) 218 Cal.App.3d 1, 29. ("Therefore, we must conclude that there was no firmly established public policy against urinalysis in 1985 because, at that time, our Constitution's privacy provision had not been interpreted as prohibiting this testing. For all these reasons, we hold that Luck did not state a cause of action for wrongful termination in violation of public policy.")
  23. Silo v. CHW Medical Foundation (2002) 27 Cal.4th 1097, 1109. ("Thus, even assuming that Silo engaged in such speech only during his work breaks, we can discern no fundamental public policy that places limits on a religious employer's right to control such speech. In other words, in reading the California Constitution, article I, section 8's prohibition against religious discrimination in employment together with the free exercise and establishment clauses of the State and Federal Constitutions, and with the FEHA's explicit exemption of religious organizations from liability for such discrimination, we cannot say there is a fundamental and substantial public policy that prohibits a religious employer from terminating an employee because of his or her objectionable religious speech in the workplace [and that thus supports public policy wrongful termination suit].")
  24. See Sullivan v. Delta Air Lines (1997) 58 Cal.App.4th 938.
  25. See Jersey v. John Muir Medical Center (2002) 97 Cal.App.4th 814.
  26. Turner v. Anheuser-Busch, Inc., 7 Cal.4th at 1251-52. ("Standing alone, constructive discharge is neither a tort nor a breach of contract, but a doctrine that transforms what is ostensibly a resignation into a firing. . . . An actual or constructive discharge in violation of fundamental public policy gives rise to a tort action in favor of the terminated employee.")
  27. Same, at 1251. ("In order to establish a constructive discharge, an employee must plead and prove, by the usual preponderance of the evidence standard, that the employer either intentionally created or knowingly permitted working conditions that were so intolerable or aggravated at the time of the employee's resignation that a reasonable employer would realize that a reasonable person in the employee's position would be compelled to resign.")
  28. See Judicial Council of California Civil Jury Instructions ("CACI") 2406 -- Breach of Employment Contract —Unspecified Term—Damages. ("If you find that [name of defendant] [discharged/demoted] [name of plaintiff] in breach of an employment contract, then you must decide the amount of damages, if any, that [name of plaintiff] has proved [he/she] is entitled to recover. To make that decision, you must: 1. Decide the amount that [name of plaintiff] would have earned from [name of defendant] up to today, including any benefits and pay increases; [and] 2. Add the present cash value of any future wages and benefits that [he/she] would have earned after today for the length of time the employment with [name of defendant] was reasonably certain to continue; [and] 3. [Describe any other contract damages that were allegedly caused by defendant's conduct.]") See also CACI 2407 --  Affirmative Defense—Employee's Duty to Mitigate Damages [in wrongful termination suit]. ("[Name of defendant] claims that if [name of plaintiff] is entitled to any damages, they should be reduced by the amount that [he/she] could have earned from other employment. To succeed, [name of defendant] must prove all of the following:1. That employment substantially similar to [name of plaintiff]'s former job was available to [him/her]; 2. That [name of plaintiff] failed to make reasonable efforts to seek [and retain] this employment; and 3. The amount that [name of plaintiff] could have earned from this employment.")
  29.  CACI 2433 --  Wrongful Discharge [wrongful termination] in Violation of Public Policy—Damages. ("If you find that [name of defendant] [discharged/constructively discharged] [name of plaintiff] in violation of public policy, then you must decide the amount of damages that [name of plaintiff] has proven [he/she] is entitled to recover, if any. To make that decision, you must: 1. Decide the amount that [name of plaintiff] would have earned up to today, including any benefits and pay increases; [and] 2. Add the present cash value of any future wages and benefits that [he/she] would have earned for the length of time the employment with [name of defendant] was reasonably certain to continue; [and] 3. [Add damages for [describe any other damages that were allegedly caused by defendant's conduct, e.g., “emotional distress”] if you find that [name of defendant]'s conduct was a substantial factor in causing that harm.]") See also CACI 3905A --  Physical Pain, Mental Suffering, and Emotional Distress (Noneconomic Damage [arising from wrongful termination in violation of public policy]). ("[Insert number, e.g., “1.”] [Past] [and] [future] [physical pain/mental suffering/loss of enjoyment of life/disfigurement/physical impairment/ inconvenience/grief/anxiety/humiliation/emotional distress/[insert other damages]].")
  30. Government Code 12965(b) GC [attorney's fees for FEHA wrongful termination suit]; 18 U.S.C. 1514A(c)(2)(C) -- Sarbanes-Oxley whistleblower protections.
  31. Civil Code 3294 -- Exemplary damages; when allowable; definitions. ("(a) In an action for the breach of an obligation not arising from contract [such as certain public policy wrongful discharge lawsuits], where it is proven by clear and convincing evidence that the defendant has been guilty of oppression, fraud, or malice, the plaintiff, in addition to the actual damages, may recover damages for the sake of example and by way of punishing the defendant.")
  32. Code of Civil Procedure 335.1 CCP -- Two years; actions for assault, battery, or injury to, or for death of, individual caused by wrongful act or neglect [applies to wrongful termination tort suits]. ("Within two years: An action for assault, battery, or injury to, or for the death of, an individual caused by the wrongful act or neglect of another.") See also Prue v. Brady Company/San Diego, Inc. (2015) 242 Cal.App.4th 1367, 1382. ("Contrary to Brady's assertion and the trial court's conclusion, Prue's common law tort cause of action for wrongful termination in violation of public policy is not barred by FEHA's one-year statute of limitations. Instead, Code of Civil Procedure section 335.1 applies, providing a two-year statute of limitations for tort actions based on injuries to plaintiffs caused by the wrongful act or neglect of others.")
  33. Government Code 12960 GC -- Procedure for prevention and elimination of unlawful employment practices; application of article; complaints; limitations [wrongful termination based on retaliation for harassment/discrimination complaints]. ("(d) No complaint may be filed after the expiration of one year from the date upon which the alleged unlawful practice or refusal to cooperate occurred . . .")
  34. Sistare-Meyer v. Y.M.C.A. of Metropolitan Los Angeles (1997) 58 Cal.App.4th 10, 18. ("In sum, we conclude that under Tameny and its progeny, independent contractors cannot assert Tameny claims predicated on race-based terminations.")

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