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A Smart Guide to Your Rights When You Are Fired

IIf you have been terminated from your job, you are still entitled to certain rights.  In addition to basic rights a terminated employee enjoys, there may also be other rights that you do not know about.  Termination from your job can be disorienting and maddening. This can lead to confusion that clouds the facts of your case. If you’re not sure if you’ve been treated fairly, it’s smart to contact a wrongful termination lawyer.  Here is some helpful information that will help you decide if you’ve been terminated with cause, or if you should speak with a labor attorney:

At Will Employment

Most employers hire candidates as ‘at will’ employees.  At will employment means that the employer may terminate an employee for any reason, at any time.  As long as it is not contrary to a previous settlement or contract, or is otherwise contrary to federal or state law, it is not considered a violation of employee rights.  A wrongful termination lawyer will be able to help you determine if the termination was unlawful.  It will also depend on whatever rights the employee had when their employer terminated them.

Where Employee Rights Come From

Wrongful termination attorneys and labor lawyers agree on three main sources of rights for terminated employees.  Not every source applies to every terminated employee, but it is a good idea to check if these sources exist.  If they do, check them carefully to make sure your former employer did not violate your rights as an employee:

Company Policy

Most larger businesses have a formal policy about terminating employees.  If a business has guidelines for employees available, there should be a section regarding the discharge of an employee.  Some companies offer severance or termination pay.  It’s a good idea to check the company guidelines to see what you’re entitled to before there’s a problem.

Contractual Rights

Employees who work for a business under contract will be able to review the agreement if they ask.  A collective bargaining agreement or other union agreement will have similar safeguards. It’s a good idea to speak with your union representative or review the contract or agreement yourself if you have questions. They can help you understand the policies for disciplining and terminating employees. If they are unable to help you, you should probably consult an employment law attorney or wrongful termination lawyer to be sure of your rights.

Statutory Rights

State and federal laws give you statutory rights.  These rights include benefits like unemployment insurance. In addition, anti-discrimination and anti-retaliation laws cover other circumstances  A wrongful termination lawyer has an extensive understanding of these rights. They can help you know for sure if your employer violated your statutory rights.

Receiving Your Final Paycheck

Most states differ in when the employer must give an employee their final paycheck.  Some states have different time limits depending on whether the employer fired the employee, or they quit.  California law requires the employer to give the terminated employee their final paycheck immediately.  However, if the employee quits with at least a 72-hour notice, the employer has 72 hours to issue a final paycheck.  If a negotiated agreement or settlement is already in place, the agreement may apply to the employee instead.  If you are unsure, it’s best to speak with your labor attorney or wrongful termination lawyer to ensure there are no issues with your final pay.

A Severance Pay Agreement

Severance agreements are a special type of contract between employers and employees.  In exchange for the employee’s promise not to file lawsuits, the employer grants the employee certain benefits after their termination.  These benefits can include a lump sum payment or an extension of pay, health, retirement or other benefits.  In addition, they could even cover the cost of a job placement program.

Although the law does not require severance pay, some companies offer these benefits to their employees.  Employers may have them written as part of a contract, or in a more informal version in an employee handbook.  Also, if the employer made an oral promise to award you severance pay, or has a history of offering severance pay to others, these benefits may apply to you as well.  The best way to know for sure in cases like these is to speak with a wrongful termination lawyer.

Maintaining Health Coverage

Terminated employees have the right to continue receiving health insurance after they have left their employer.  The Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA) gives terminated employees the right to continue their health coverage after they leave a job.  As a result, if an employer has 20 or more employees, they have to offer this extended participation in the health insurance plan.

When To Call a Wrongful Termination Lawyer

If you feel your employer violated your rights when they terminated you, you need to fight back to safeguard those rights.  If you’re in the greater Los Angeles Area, call  the professionals at the Law Offices of Cathe L. Caraway-Howard.  They’ll help you determine what rights you have as a terminated employee, and recover any damages you have coming.