Wrongful termination happens when an employer illegally fires someone from their job. There are laws in place in California and across the United States to protect workers against wrongful termination. Sometimes this has to be taken to court and enforced by law. If you have decided to take your wrongful termination case to an attorney, you may be wondering, how long does a wrongful termination case take to settle? 

Keep in mind that every case is different, and some will take longer than others. To understand how long a wrongful termination case takes to settle, let’s walk through the steps of what is most likely to happen when you go forward with your case. 

Hiring An Attorney 

One of the most time-consuming parts of filing your wrongful termination case may be finding the right lawyer. You will want to look for someone who is well versed in employment law because sometimes these cases need to be taken to court. You will have to have a consultation with potential lawyers and see if they can take your case. Driving to the offices and making appointments can rack up the days it will take to settle your claim. 

Once you find a great lawyer, you will need to have a session to go over the details of what happened. Depending on the type of wrongful termination case you are trying to settle, it can be hard and emotional to recount the details. Save some time here but writing everything down as it happened. 

How Long Does A Wrongful Termination Case Take To Settle?  

Filling the Charges 

The first thing you must do when filing wrongful termination charges is to file a Charge Of Discrimination. This is the official documentation that you will sign, accusing your workplace of discrimination, and submit it to the U.S Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). The EEOC requires that you file a Charge Of Discrimination before filing a wrongful termination case. The EEOC will then open an investigation into your claim and give your employer a chance to respond, which can take around ten months. If your employer refuses to respond to the charges, they will have to file a subpoena; instances such as this can take more time. 

Once you file the Charge of Discrimination, the EEOC will attempt to resolve your case because that’s what they are for. They may interview the employer or other employees. They could also take some time to collect all the evidence. Depending on the specific type of wrongful termination case you bring forth, it could take between 60 and 180 days to complete their investigation and attempt a resolution. 

If you filled under Title VII (discrimination based), they have up to 180 days to try to resolve the case on their own before you can file criminal charges. Furthermore, you will need a notice of right to sue before you can move forward for this kind of case, which can be issued by the EEOC any time within 180 days. 

Suppose you filed under the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (age discrimination based). In that case, you might move forward with your suit 60 days after submitting the Charge of Discrimination, and you do not need a notice of right to sue. If this all sounds complicated to you, don’t worry, your lawyer will help you. 


Discovery is an essential part of your case, and it can take a while. During this phase of the case, both parties have the opportunity to gather all the information they need to move forward. This information includes documents, interviews, and other forms of investigations. If there are witnesses involved, they all need to be interviewed by both parties. Both parties have up to 30 days to answer each request and can ask for extensions, so you can see how the time begins to add up. This is another area where the experience of the lawyer you choose will play greatly into how long it takes a wrongful termination case to settle. 

Why Do Employment Cases Take So Long To Settle? 

Many factors will determine how long a wrongful termination case will take to settle in court. The average time for a wrongful termination case to settle in California is approximately one to three years. It could be faster or slower, depending on: 

  1. The attorney you chose 
  2. How complicated the case is 
  3. If it goes to court 
  4. The experience level of the lawyers on both sides 
  5. The backlog of the court 
  6. Responsiveness of your past employer 

It is a fact that a wrongful termination case may take a while to settle. But, do not let this deter you from getting justice against your past or current employer for their unlawful behavior. Acts of discrimination, sexual harassment, or retaliation should not go unpunished. Remember that the law is on your side. If you need help making the next step in your wrongful termination case, consider contacting one of our specialists, they are waiting to talk to you. 

*Disclaimer: This article post is not meant to substitute for legal aid or give legal advice. If you or someone you know requires legal aid, please reach out to a qualified attorney. California Employee Advocates is not a law firm.