When is termination considered “wrongful?”
Most companies hire employees “at will.” This means that they can fire an employee at any time without any reason. However, there are particular cases when this does not apply, and the termination is considered wrongful.
- If you have been fired as a form of sexual harassment.
- If your termination violated written or oral employment agreements.
- If you have been fired in violation of your federal and state laws that protect against discrimination.
- If you have been fired as retaliation for filing a claim or complaint against your employer.
- If you have been fired in violation of labor laws.
What to do if you feel as though you have been wrongfully terminated
You might be angry or indignant about the fact that you have been the victim of wrongful termination, but resist the urge to react emotionally or in a non-productive way. If you received an employment contract, read over the guidelines of the agreement carefully. Take the time to find out whose decision it was to terminate you, and ask about the reasons for your termination. Then, make a request to view your personnel file. If your employer has made certain promises to you, review them, and gather evidence that they occurred. Make sure that all the agreements regarding your severance have been put in writing. Finally, be sure to return all of the company’s property and to follow other procedures the company details as post-employment.
Possible criteria for Wrongful Termination:
- You hold a written contract that includes promises of job security. For example, if you have a contract that says you can only be fired for particular reasons, or a letter that delivers promises about your continued employment.
- An implied employment contract exists. This is a situation where an implied agreement exists regarding things your employer has said or done, and it is an exception to the “at-will” rule. Courts will examine a number of features if you sue an employer for wrongful termination under an implied contract, including the number and regularity of job promotions you have received, a solid history of positive performance reviews, how long you have stayed at the job, promises that you would have continued employment, and the way you were fired, for example, if you were fired without a required warning.
- You may be a victim of wrongful termination when your employers act unfairly. For example, if you are fired or transferred so that you employer can prevent you from collecting sales commissions, if your employer has misled you into thinking you have a chance for a promotion or a raise, if your company has lied about why they have fired you, made up reasons to justify the termination in order to replace you with a lower paid employee, or if you are repeatedly forced to transfer to dangerous or undesirable assignments as a ploy to get you to quit with no severance pay.
- Your termination is a result of discrimination. For example, if you believe you were terminated because of national origin, race, age, disability, pregnancy or gender.
- You lost your job as a result of your employer’s retaliation. For example, being fired for engaging in a legally protected activity, like complaining about harassment or discrimination.
- You have been fired for being a “whistle blower,” that is you have reported illegal or harmful activities, such as neglecting labor laws or ignoring environmental regulations.
Your Next Steps if you are a Victim of Wrongful Termination
The most important thing for you to do after you have been wrongfully terminated is to know your rights. Various federal and state websites provide a rich source of information for people in your position. (Maybe place a link here?) The US Department of Labor site contains information on the laws that regulate employment and directions on how to file a claim.
My office can assist you if you have been wrongfully terminated. We believe every employee, no matter what their rank or importance in the company may be has the right to safe, happy, and steady employment if they are doing their best at their job in good faith, or are trying to do the right thing by standing up against discrimination, or alerting the authorities that your employer may be harming its workers or the public.
Since 1996 I have been helping “the little guy” stand up to powerful companies that assume they can break the law with no repercussions. My interest is in helping you get what you deserve, empowering you as a partner, and ensuring that this will not happen to you again. Contact me by phone at (310) 488-9020 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org any day and we will start recovering the damages you are owed.