lawyers-discussing-new-case-in-lobby-2021-09-24-03-40-49-utc-scaled.jpg (2560×1707)According to the Department of Labor Statistics, about 60,000 Americans are fired each year in the private sector. If you’re one of them, you might feel hurt, depressed, angry or victimized. You have a lot of concerns and questions, and you’re probably sharing them with just about anyone willing to listen.

In point of fact, the one person you need to get answers from is a competent employment attorney. Simply stated, an attorney who specializes in employment law knows and understands the state and federal laws regarding firing, and where these laws differ. (For example, California’s Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) prevents employers from firing workers on the basis of sexual orientation, while there is no comparable law at the federal level.)

If you’ve been fired, here are 3 important questions your lawyer can answer for you:

Was I wrongfully terminated? Most workers are “at will” employees, which means your employer can fire you for almost any reason. But there are important exceptions to this rule. For example, if you have an employment contract, you might be able to successfully argue that you are not an at-will employee, particularly if your contract overtly states that you can’t be fired without good cause. Your employer also has to exercise “good faith and fair dealing” when terminating an employee, which means, for example, he can’t create a false basis for firing you when the real reason is that he wants to hire someone else at a lower salary. Your firing can’t be based on discrimination (as defined in your state), in retaliation for legally protected activities, or (in California and several other states) because you are a “whistle-blower” (an employee who reports illegal actions by his employer).

Should I sign a severance agreement? Needless to say, money is among your chief concerns if you’ve just been fired. But bear in mind that employers generally don’t offer severance agreements out of the goodness of their hearts. Severance agreements are often a way for the employer to avoid a costly lawsuit, and often typically disallow such suits in the agreement. That motivation gives you the leverage to challenge the specifics of the agreement, or to turn it down outright if your lawyer feels you have a case for wrongful termination. You should never sign a severance agreement before consulting a lawyer. If your employer tells you your only chance to sign the agreement is “today,” at the time of the firing, you need to know that there is a federal anti-age discrimination law (the Older Workers Benefit Protection Act) which requires your employer to give you 21 days to sign such an agreement if you are at least 40 years of age.

Is it OK to talk to others about the firing or complain about my employer? You might want trusted friends to know that the treatment you received was unfair, or that you were a stellar employee, or that your employer is a snake. That’s understandable. Unfortunately, if your case eventually goes to trial, everything you’ve said can be used against you. Your employer’s lawyer can subpoena friends to repeat what you’ve said, as well as any emails, social media postings or other writings. Remember, when it comes to winning a wrongful termination lawsuit, the only talk that matters is the talk that happens in the courtroom, and the only opinion that counts is the one rendered by the jury.


If you’ve been fired, you want answers, and you want them fast, but it’s a mistake to strike out on your own and make important decisions without the counsel of an experienced employment attorney. At Aiman-Smith & Marcy, our attorneys have decades of experience representing employees and winning millions in settlements over the past decade. Unlike many law firms, all of our lawyers work together on every aspect of your case in partnership with you. If you’ve been fired, contact us today to learn more about your rights and the steps you need to take to protect them

Leave a Reply

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