The Details of Your Employment Contract and What They May Mean If You Are Eventually Wrongfully Terminated from Your California Job

There are lots of good reasons why one might prefer to pursue litigation close to home. Having the case close by might mean lower costs and an opportunity to be more closely involved. It might mean getting a jury that’s more receptive to your arguments. It also might mean getting a judge more familiar with the legal issues you’re asserting (if the other option is to litigate out of state). Whether you’re a Californian or an out-of-stater, and whether you’re in California court because you prefer to litigate here or your employment contract forces you to, be sure your case is armed with the skill and knowledge of an experienced Oakland employment attorney.

Sometimes, litigating in a particular place is not by choice. As an example, take the case of J.N., an East Bay man working for an insurance claims services company. Although the employer was based in suburban Indianapolis, Indiana, J.N. worked in El Cerrito. The company terminated J.N.’s employment in late March, 2017. J.N. believed that he was the victim of illegal discrimination and sued in Contra Costa County, alleging wrongful termination along with several violations of the Fair Employment and Housing Act.

J.N., though, had a problem. The employment contract he signed with the company had what’s called a “forum selection clause.” That is something that says that, if there’s a dispute between you and your employer, you must litigate in one of the designated courts. J.N.’s forum selection clause stated he could only sue the employer in Hamilton County, Indiana, Marion County, Indiana or the federal court in Indianapolis.

The employer, based on that clause, sought to have the lawsuit thrown out. The employee argued that the forum selection clause was in violation of California public policy and, therefore, was unenforceable. The appeals court disagreed. The forum selection clause was a permissible contract provision, freely agreed to by both employer and employee, and not barred by any California public policy in effect at the relevant time.

If you find yourself pursuing employment litigation in California, and your employer seeks to force you to pursue the case in another state due to a forum selection clause, there may be some ways to persuade a court not to enforce that clause in your contract. One way may be to demonstrate that enforcing the clause would meaning forcing you to forfeit certain rights. For example, back in 2015, the California appeals court in Santa Ana ruled against enforcing a forum selection clause because that employer had not demonstrated that the forum listed in the contract (Texas) would have applied California law or that Texas law would give the employee equal or greater rights as compared to California.

Whether you are a California worker or an out-of-state worker, if you find yourself having been wrongfully terminated and needing to litigate that wrongful termination in the California courts, then you need an experienced California attorney. Contact the knowledgeable Oakland employment attorneys at the Law Offices of Stephen M. Fuerch. We have helped many workers who have been harmed as a result of improperly terminated employment, and know how to help you pursue the positive results you need. To learn more about what we can do for you, contact us through our website or call our office at (925) 463-1073 to schedule your confidential initial consultation today.