Causes of Action

A “cause of action” is a set of facts or legal theory that gives an individual or entity the right to seek a legal remedy against another. This applies to the filing of a civil lawsuit for such wrongs as property damages, personal injury, or monetary loss, as well as to wrong doings such as battery, theft, or kidnapping. They can arise in employment or contractual matters, or even if the parties have never met before.  A cause of action may come from an act or failure to act, breach of duty, or a violation of rights, and the facts or circumstances of each specific case often have a significant effect on the case. And the cause of action typically gives the victim a right to seek damages or equitable relief.

Below, please find a long list of causes of action in California. One cannot say that is comprehensive--rather, causes of action are perpetually non-exhaustive. New causes of action are being imagined, asserted, and tested in the courts almost every day. Furthermore, new ones are created by the legislature. Nevertheless, the below list includes causes of action in the state of California and the 9th circuit (federal).

Hopefully, this list will assist you in brainstorming your case. Or, in the alternative, it will serve as a check-list to review before finalizing your complaint.

Torts & Statutory Violations

• Defamation (libel & slander; Civ. Code, §§ 43,45, 46(3)-47)
• Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress
• Negligent Infliction of Emotional Distress
• Negligent Supervision/Retention
• Right to Privacy (California common law)
• Invasion of Privacy (Cal. Const., Article 1, Section 1)
• Public Disclosure of Private Facts (invasion of privacy)
• False Light (invasion of privacy)
• Improper Disclosure of Health/Medical Information (Civ. Code,  56.20; HIPAA)
• Improper Disclosure of Social Security Number (Civ. Code, § 1798.85)
• Improper Use of Consumer Credit Report (Civ. Code, § 1785.1)
• Improper Use of Investigative Report (Civ. Code, § 1786)
• Assault (California common law)
• Battery (California common law)
• Civil Extortion (California common law)
• Fraud and Constructive Fraud (Civ. Code, §§ 1572-1573; 1709-1710)
• Sexual Battery (Civ. Code, § 1708.5)
• Civil Conspiracy to violate [add tort] (not freestanding, must be paired with violation of a law)
• Unfair Business Practices (Bus. & Prof. Code, §§ 17200-17500 et seq.)
• Whistleblower Protection Act (CA) (Gov. Code, §§ 9149.20-23, 8547.1-12; 8548.1-5; Whistleblower Health and Safety Code, § 1278.5; Health & Safety Code, § 53298 (health & safety); [note - whistleblowers are also protected under California common law].)
• Physician-employee advocating medically appropriate health care (Bus. & Prof. Code, § 2056(c))

Employment, Contract, Termination

• Failure to Hire (based on discrimination/FEHA; Cal. Const. Article One, Section 8)
• Public Policy Tort Termination (Tameny tortious discharge)
• Tortious Constructive Discharge (forced to resign)
• Retaliation (Govt. Code, § 12653; Lab. Code, § 1102.5)
• Wrongful Demotion (Scott v. PG&E, (1995) 11 Cal.4th 454.)
• Breach of Contract (oral or written)
• Breach of Implied Covenant of Good Faith and Fair Dealing
• Intentional Interference with Prospective Economic Advantage
• Intentional Interference with Contract
• Promissory Estoppel (detrimental reliance on unenforceable promise)
• Unjust Enrichment/Quantum Meruit
• Conversion (of wages) (California common law)
• Conversion of personal property (California common law)
• Fraud; Deceit (Civ. Code, §§ 1709-1710; 1534)
• Negligent Hire and Retention
• FEHA Violations (Gov. Code, §§ 12960, et seq.); Includes:

  • Discrimination: based on race, age, sex (includes breast feeding per AB 2386), pregnancy, sexual orientation, gender identity, disability, religion (includes religious dress & grooming practices per AB 1964) veteran or active military status (per AB 556) [based on disparate treatment or disparate impact]
  • Sexual Harassment (conduct need not be motivated by sexual desire per AB 292)
  • Failure to Prevent Discrimination/Harassment (Govt. Code, § 12940(k))
  • Failure to Accommodate Disability (Govt. Code, § 12940(m))
  • Failure to Engage in Interactive Dialogue (Govt. Code, § 12940(n))
  • Failure to Accommodate Religious Preferences (Govt. Code, § 12940(k))
  • Retaliation (Govt. Code, § 12940(h))
  • Aiding & Abetting (Govt. Code, § 12940(g))

• Wage Discrimination
• Unruh Civil Rights Act Violation (discrimination against non-EE (Civ. Code, §§ 51 et seq.)
Wage & Hour, Other Labor Code Violations
• Failure to hire, demotion, suspension or discharge from employ because employee engaged in lawful conduct during non-work hours (Labor Code, § 96k)
• Discrimination for exercise of rights (Labor Code, § 98.6; AB 262 expanded to include protections for employee engaging in immigration-related activities; AB 254 makes employer liable for
criminal extortion for threatening to report immigration status)
• Discrimination for filing work comp claim (Labor Code, § 132a)
• § 201 wages due on termination (immediate)
• § 202 wages due on quitting (72 hours)
• § 203 penalties for willful failure to pay discharged/quitting ee
• § 210 willful failure to pay - see also Lab. Code §§ 2698 and 225.5
• § 215 makes failure to pay wages due a misdemeanor
• § 206.5 forced to sign release for wages due
• § 218.5 attys fees for any action relating to non-payment of wages (limited ER’s ability to
recover attys fees as prevailing part only if EE brought claim in bad faith per SB 462)
• § 221 makes illegal collection back from employee of any wages paid
• § 223 makes illegal any deal to pay less than prevailing wage due under statute or contract
• § 225.5 penalties (query whether can be demanded under private atty gen.)
• § 226 penalty/remedy due to employee’s failure to provide specified info on wage stmts
(SB 1255 employee “injury” as failure to provide accurate wage stmts even if no actual
• § 226.7 illegal to make employee work during meal or rest period - 1 hr penalty (recovery
period required to cool down to prevent employee heat illness per SD 435)
• § 227.3 vacation time due at termination
• § 229 allows employee to sue in court for wages despite any agreement to arb.
• § 230 Jury duty or witness leave
• § 230.1 Domestic Violence Leave (includes victims of stalking per SB 288)
• § 230.2 Crime Victim Leave (allows victims of crime time off to testify in court)
• §230.3 prohibits discrimination against employee for performance of emergency duty as
volunteer firefighter, reserve peace officer or emergency rescue personnel
• § 230.4 Temporary Training Leave & reinstatement for voluntary firefights, reserve peace
officer or emergency rescue personnel (14 days/no retaliation for taking leave per AB 11)
• § 230.7 prohibits termination or discrimination against employee for req’d appearance in
school after child suspended
• § 230.8 protects employee who is parent, guardian or grandparent having custody of child
for taking time off (up to 40 hrs/yr) to participate in child’s activities in school
• § 232 prohibits retaliation or termination of employer for discussing or disclosing wages
or refusing to agree not to disclose wages
• § 233 Kin Care Leave (allows use of sick leave for illness of child, parent, spouse)
• § 234 makes violation per se where policy counts sick leave as absence
• § 351 makes it illegal to take tips from employee
• § 353 requires employee to maintain tip records
• § 407 Unlawful to require investment or stock purchase
• § 432 allows employee to get copy of any writing he has signed
• § 432.2 prohibits use of polygraph
• § 432.5 forcing employee to sign agreement to engage in illegalities
• § 432.7 prohibits requiring applicant to disclose arrest not resulting in conviction or
dismissal or info concerning a referral or participation in pre/post trial diversion program
• § 432.8 protects employee from disclosing Cannabis possession conviction more than 2
yrs old
• § 435 no audio/video recording of employees in bathroom, changing rooms
• § 510 work day 8 hours, overtime 1 ½ after 80.
• § 512 meal period
• § 515(d) requires nonexempt employee’s be paid OT for hours beyond 40 hrs/wk, 8
• §752 non-unionized employee’s in smelters or underground mines have right to fair and
impartial election to establish workday > 8 hrs
• § 923 right to spokesperson of own choosing (pre-empted by NLRA; limited to attorney or
coworker representation w/consent)
• § 970 misrep (of kind, nature or duration) inducing change of residence for purpose of
work, double damages § 972
• § 980 restricts employer from requesting access to employee’s social media
• § 230.7 makes termination illegal for parent to visit child’s school
• § 232 makes illegal refusal to allow employees to discuss wages
• §§ 1025-1028 Alcohol Drug Rehab Leave prohibits ER w/25 or more ees from
discriminating/retaliating against employee who believes is denied accommodation to
participate in rehab program)
• §1041 Adult Literacy Leave (prohibits employee from discriminating/retaliating against
employee who believes denied accommodation to enroll & participate in adult literacy
• § 1050 (misrepresentation to potential new ers)
• § 1061(b)(1) Janitorial and building serve ees may not be terminated without cause for 60
days follows change in building services contractor.
• §§ 1101-1102 prohibits dx/retaliation against employee for engaging in political choice
• § 1102 threat of discharge as coercion of political activity
• § 1102.5 whistleblower rights re refusal to engage or threatening to or actually reporting
legal violations (see also CAL OSHA type reports, § 6310-6311) (SB 496 modified to
protect employee regardless of whether disclosing info is part of job duties & includes
complaints based on reasonable belief of violation of local rule or regulation)
• § 1102.6 shifts burden of proof to employer to prove by clear and convincing evidence
that termination would have occurred regardless of whistle blowing
• § 1102.8 requires posting by employer of whistleblower numbers
• § 1182.5 min wage $9/hr (effective 7/1/14) and $10/hr after 1/1/16 (AB 10)
• § 1194 authorizes civil action regardless of agreement to contrary re min & OT wages due
(§ 1194a) attorney fees authorized.
• § 1194(a) civil action for unpaid min wage or OT
• § 1194.2 double amount
• § 1197.1 liquidated damages for willful failure to pay min wage to Lab Comm.
• § 1197.5 wage discrimination based on gender (violation of Cal. Equal Pay Act)
• § 1197.1 liquidates damages for willful failure to pay min wage
• § 1198.3 protects EE who refuses to work hrs in excess of those permitted by IWC orders
• § 1198.5 reqs inspection of personnel records w/in 30 days written request ($750 penalty –
see also § 226 which requires copies of all wage statements upon EE’s request)
• §§ 1400 et seq. WARN (Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act (mass layoff
requirements for State of CA; minor differences with fed WARN)
• §1450 Domestic Workers Rights Act (OT after 9 hrs/day or 45 hrs/wk)
• §1512 Donor Leave (protects EE who took paid leave to donate organ/bone marrow)
• § 2699 Private Attorney General Act (PAGA) (administrative exhaustion required)
• § 2751 commission agreements must be in writing
• § 2802 indemnification to EE
• § 2810 require written agreements for certain labor & services contracts (warehouse
contractor (AB 1855), construction, farm labor, garment, security guard, janitorial)
• § 2856 excuses noncompliance with illegal orders
• § 2929 no termination for one judgment’s garnishment (LC notice req’d in some cases)
• § 2930 failing to provide copy of shopping investigator’s report before disciplining or
terminating when based on report of employee’s conduct, performance or honesty)
• § 6310 no discrimination against EE for safety complaints to gov’t (note: complaint to ER
is complaint to the gov’t for whistle blowing protection rights)
• § 6311 no discharge for refusing to work in violation of Cal OSHA
• California Code of Regulations (cite as Cal. Code Regs. Tit 2, section 7286.9A9)(1) (back
pay to be in position as if discrimination had not occurred).
• § 6399.7 protects EE for complaining/testifying re non-compliance w/ Hazardous
Substances Information & Training Act
• § 6402 no ER shall require or permit any EE to be in place of employment which is not
safe and healthful.
• § 6403.5 protects health care worker for refusing to lift, reposition or transfer patient due
to concerns re patient/EE safety or b/c of lack of trained lift team personnel or equipment
• § 6404 no ER shall occupy or maintain any place of employment that is not safe and
• § 6405 no employer shall construct or cause to be constructed unsafe premises.
• Industrial Welfare Commission Orders (governs minimum wages, maximum hours and
overtime in California, Lab. Code §§ 1173, 1176-1182, 1184-1190; also cited as 8 Cal.
Code Regs §§ 11000 et seq. (IWC defunded in 2004 but orders remain operative)
• Health & Safety Code § 1278.5 (Health care ER may not discriminate or retaliate for EE
making grievance to gov’t re quality of care, services or conditions.
• Cal. Fin. Code § 6530 (savings association may not retaliate against whistle blower)