8-Questions-to-Ask-Right-After-Youve-Been-Fired.jpg (4297×2317)Getting fired is no one’s idea of a walk in the park. It’s an unpleasant feeling no matter what the reason for the firing may have been. This is ever truer when you know or suspect that your firing was based on discrimination or illegal punitive action for circumstances outside your control. When you’ve been fired, it’s important to ask yourself a few questions immediately afterward.

Check your feelings for a moment and try to be serious and honest with yourself. The best way to determine if you have been illegally fired and if you need to take action is to ask the following questions. Then act on the answers.

1) Do I Think I Was Fired Fairly or Unfairly?

Start with your own subjective experience. Most people feel that they’ve been fired unfairly, but from the outside, there may be a legitimate reason why you were let go. If you were on PIP for legitimate performance problems, if you told your boss to stick it where the sun don’t shine, or if you were involved in some ill-thought-out workplace pranks, you may not really be surprised that you were let go.

But this isn’t always the case, and fair firings are far more common with younger employees who don’t always make the right decision. If you’re certain that you were walking the line, being professional, and turning in satisfactory work, then your firing may well be unfair and based on a premise that could be fully illegal according to California employment law.

2) Was My Dismissal In Line With the Employee Handbook and Company Policies?

The next question to ask yourself is whether your firing is compliant with the employee handbook. This handbook that you should have been trained with and have access to will define the proper procedure for warning employees and the criteria for letting someone go based on unacceptable behavior, performance, or circumstance. If you weren’t given proper warning according to the rules, or your behavior did not warrant firing, then you were not legally let go.

3) Did the Person Who Fired Me Have the Authority to Fire Me?

Not all managers have firing authority, even if they hired you. In many organizations, managers need approval from HR or their own boss before they can terminate someone’s employment. So your supervisor may have gotten mad and said “You’re Fired” but that might hold no real authoritative weight in the organization.

If you’re not sure, call HR, or even show up for work tomorrow and march straight to HR to find out. This is particularly likely if your manager is not highly ranked or if they hold little real authority in the organization. Or if you’re dealing with a very new manager on the job.

4) Was HR Fully Aware of My Circumstances?

There are so many limitations to whether someone can be legally fired, and for what. A smart manager will run an intent to fire past HR before taking action to protect themselves and the company from legal embarrassment. But not all managers are smart or thorough. HR may never have approved your dismissal if they were made aware of it before it happened. If you’re not sure, or if you’re certain that the HR department (or HR person in smaller companies) wasn’t consulted, it’s on you to consult with them. Be polite and informative.

5) Was I Fired Because of My Membership in a Protected Demographic?

You know your workplace situation and your boss’s biases better than we can at this moment. Reflect back on why you think you were fired. If it has to do with your membership in a protected demographic (gender, ethnicity, religion, disability, etc), then the firing was both illegal and lawfully problematic for your employer. You’ll want to consult with both the company HR and an employment lawyer to make things right and reverse this unfairly biased decision.

6 )Was I Fired Because of Protected Personal or Family Obligations?

Also reflect on whether your family obligations may have played a part in your firing. If you have recently taken unpaid family leave or informed your boss that you intended to, for example, this may have contributed to the reason you were fired. Which would be illegal. Your choice in romantic partner, obligation to children or elderly parents, or your pregnancy or nursing mother status should also have nothing to do with your firing. And if they did, someone broke the law.

7) Did My Employer Fire Me Legally?

The answers to the previous questions and some thorough online research can help you answer the all-important question of whether your employer was even legally allowed to fire you, or if their rash decision just broke the law for them and your employer. If the law was broken, you’ll need to consult with an employment attorney and the HR department of your company to make things right.

8) What Should I Do Next?

Finally, make your plan. Decide if the right decision is to walk away from the job, politely reach out to HR for clarification, or to protect yourself and your rights by contacting an experienced California employment lawyer instead.

Here at Aiman-Smith and Marcy, our legal team is passionately dedicated to protecting the rights of California employees. Whether you work for a company that thinks’ it’s too big to respect its employees or a manager who fired you against company policy and the rule of law, we can help. Contact us today to schedule a consultation about your firing situation and we’ll help you forge the best possible path forward to get your job back and/or rebuild your life afterward.

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Lisseth Bayona


Education and Background

I am a Los Angeles native and daughter of Salvadorian immigrants. From an early age, my parents instilled the value of hard work and education in me and my two siblings. Their perseverance enabled each of us to graduate from college and earn professional degrees.

My interest and commitment to workers’ rights have roots in my parents’ experiences as undocumented workers in Los Angeles. Witnessing the challenges they faced inspired me to pursue a career where I can help individuals confronted with similar struggles. To help someone in those moments is very satisfying. I love connecting with people and learning about their stories. I believe that dignity in the workplace is a right of all workers, not a convenience or privilege reserved for employees of a certain race, gender, age, sexual orientation, or gender identity.

Legal Experience

I received my J.D. from the University of Southern California (USC) Gould School of Law. While there, I served as a judicial extern to the Honorable Patrick J. Walsh of the United States District Court for the Central District of California, where I drafted a criminal judicial opinion. Also, while at Gould, I served as an extern for the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Central District of California. As a Criminal Division Extern, I had the opportunity to work closely with a trial team of Assistant U.S. Attorneys on a money laundering case which further sparked my interest in litigation.

Personal Interests

In my free time, I enjoy urban vegetable gardening, traveling, and spending time with my nephew and niece. I also love to spend time at San Onofre Beach learning to surf, although admittedly, I am not very good.



Hallie L. Von Rock

Attorney (SBN 233152)

Education and Background

I moved to the Bay Area from Washington after graduating high school. I had been accepted to UC Berkeley through a program where I could defer for two years while getting my California residency and attending community college, which was significant since I was paying for college on my own. I began working for Randall Aiman-Smith and Reed Marcy in 1996 as an office manager while taking night classes. My first foray into the legal world was soon after starting at the firm when I was ready to transfer to UC Berkeley. Rather than accepting my resident status, the Board of Regents took the position that California residency required a student to be in California “two calendar years.” Randall and Reed took up my case with the same verve as they helped their actual clients and I got the chance to comb through the UC Berkeley library to read their codes and regulations to support my position. In that experience, I learned what is was like to feel helpless against a big organization and then to have dedicated attorneys in my corner to take up my cause.

After a break to pursue my major in art history, I went to UC Hastings College of Law and continued working with Randall and Reed. Having worked together now for over 25 years, we have a unique ability to work collaboratively and finish each other’s sentences. I have strived throughout my career to make a difference in the lives of our clients. At the end of the day, if I am helping someone to get compensation for losses they suffered, then I know that all the work put into a case has been worth it.

Legal Experience

I have extensive experience in civil litigation and class action cases, including conducting discovery and depositions, calculating damages analysis, preparing motions for certification, writing appellate documents, and overseeing claims administration. We have handled several class actions against retailers where plaintiffs claimed they were forced to purchase clothing to wear to work and were not compensated for these purchases, including against Abercrombie & Fitch, Hugo Boss, Armani Exchange, Uniqlo, Dollar Tree, and Ross. Recently, I was trial counsel in a defamation claim against Bank of America on behalf of a former employee who claimed the Bank blacklisted her with future employers. The jury found Bank of America liable, including for punitive damages.

Personal Interests

Aiman-Smith & Marcy has sponsored me in the Boston Marathon and New York Marathon. When I race, I often wear a “Rockstar Ronan” shirt to support research for childhood cancer through The Ronan Thompson Foundation.


University of California, Berkeley, B.A., 1999

Hastings College of the Law, University of California, J.D., 2004

Randall Aiman-Smith

Abogado (SBN 124599)

Aiman-Smith & Marcy. Oakland consumer fraud attorneys.

Educación y antecedentes

Fui afortunado. A pesar de no haber terminado la escuela secundaria o la universidad, pude -aunque con mucho trabajo- ser admitido y sobresalir en una de las mejores escuelas de derecho del país: La Facultad de Derecho de la Universidad de Berkeley. Mientras estuve allí, tuve el privilegio de ser editor de la California Law Review y miembro del Moot Court Board, asesorando en la redacción de escritos y en la defensa de apelaciones a otros estudiantes. Después de salir de la escuela de derecho, en mis primeros años de práctica, enseñé la escritura legal y la defensa de apelación en la Universidad de California, Hastings College of the Law. También, a lo largo de los años, he sido presentador en eventos de educación legal continua.

Experiencia legal

He sido abogado durante 35 años. He dedicado mi práctica exclusivamente a representar a empleados, consumidores e inversores en los tribunales estatales y federales de primera instancia y en los tribunales de apelación. Me gusta ir a los tribunales por mis clientes y he llevado muchos casos con jurado en los tribunales estatales y federales.

¿Ejemplos? En 2010, fui la abogada principal, junto con los otros abogados del bufete, en el caso Williams v. Union Pacific Railroad donde, después de cuatro años de preparación, el bufete obtuvo un veredicto del jurado de 1.670.000 dólares para una empleada afroamericana. En Rivero v. Surdyka, fui el abogado principal en el juicio y la apelación de un caso de derechos civiles que duró 15 años, incluyendo un juicio completo y tres apelaciones al Noveno Circuito, concluyendo finalmente con una sentencia para los demandantes de más de 2.300.000 dólares. Estos casos ilustran el lema del bufete: compromiso – resultados. Hay que comprometerse con un caso, a veces durante mucho tiempo, para obtener el resultado que el cliente merece.

No siempre ganamos en el juicio. Cuando eso ocurre, el compromiso significa llevar el caso al siguiente nivel y recurrirlo. En el caso Rivero, antes mencionado, eso fue lo que ocurrió: el tribunal desestimó el caso -habíamos perdido- pero apelamos y conseguimos una victoria para nuestros clientes que mantuvimos a través de dos apelaciones más. Desde entonces, el bufete ha conseguido muchas victorias en apelación que reivindican los derechos de los empleados y los consumidores.

A lo largo de los años he sido abogado de los demandantes en numerosos casos individuales y acciones colectivas. Puede sonar cursi, o difícil de creer, pero después de todo este tiempo, y después de todas las grandes experiencias que he tenido, mi parte favorita de ser abogado es cuando consigo dar un cheque a mi cliente.



Facultad de Derecho, Universidad de California, Berkeley, J.D., 1986