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How to Sue for Wrongful Dismissal

How to Sue for Wrongful Dismissal

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How to Sue for Wrongful Dismissal

You can sue your employer for wrongful dismissal. However, employment law is complicated, and it's important to understand what counts as wrongful dismissal and what doesn't. Here are some common examples of wrongful dismissal cases in the workplace. 

Employer Retaliation

Your employer cannot fire you because you raised the alarm over a particular issue. For example, if you were a whistleblower in a corruption case in the workplace, your employer cannot fire you based on such grounds. 

Some employers fire workers for filing a workers' compensation claim. This usually happens when the workers get injured due to someone else's negligence in the workplace. As an employee, it is your right to file for a worker's compensation claim if you get injured at work. 

Racial Discrimination

Employment laws protect workers against racial discrimination. For this reason, your employer cannot fire you because you belong to a certain race. The same also applies if you complain about racial discrimination in the workplace.  

Sexual Harassment

If you've been sexually harassed at work, you shouldn't suffer in silence for fear of losing your job. Sexual harassment cases shouldn't be taken lightly, and no amount of threats should stop you from speaking out. Your employer cannot fire you for complaining about it. 

Family and Medical Leave Act Violations

Did you know that you may have up to 12 weeks of unpaid, job-protected leave per year? More specifically, your employer cannot fire you for taking leave for any of the following reasons:

  • The birth and care of your newborn child;
  • Taking care of an immediate family member, such as spouse, parent, or child with a serious health condition; or
  • Taking medical leave when you can't work due to a serious condition.

However, to qualify for this type of unpaid leave, you must have:

  • worked for your employer for at least 12 months;
  • worked for your employer for at least 1250 hours over the past 12 months; and
  • worked at a location where your employer employs 50 or more workers within 75 miles.

Wage Violation

Some rogue employers use different tactics to deny their employees their rightful wages. Workers who raise wage violation claims against their employers shouldn't be afraid of losing their jobs. But if that happens, they can take legal action against the employer.

Examples of common tactics some employers use to deny employees their rightful wages include:

  • Requesting employees to work off the clock
  • Averaging workweeks to avoid paying employees overtime
  • Manipulating timesheets to deduct hours 
  • Paying employees less than the minimum wage
  • Threatening undocumented workers with deportation if they report wage violations to authorities
  • Failure to pay for unused vacation time upon termination (this only applies to specific states)
  • Unpaid bonus or commissions
  • Misclassifying employees to avoid paying them their rightful wages

Age Discrimination

Some employers may discriminate against workers of a certain age group, usually 40 or older. The Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 prohibits workers from:

  • refusing to hire any eligible individual due to their age;
  • denying certain individuals employee privileges due to their age;
  • acting in such a way that affects the status of an employee because of their age;
  • acting in a way that deprives any individual of employment opportunities due to their age; or
  • decreasing the wages of any employee due to their age. 

Suing for Wrongful Dismissal

If you have reason to believe that you were wrongfully terminated from your previous job, it's important to know the steps to take. While you can file a lawsuit without professional help, the chances of winning are extremely low.

This is because employment laws are complicated. Besides, they vary from state to state. What works in California might not work in Nevada or Washington. For this reason, such cases require the intervention of an experienced employment law attorney. 

Here's how an employment lawyer can help you sue your previous employer for wrongful dismissal.

Knowing Where to File a Complaint
The exact location where you need to file your case depends on the reason for your wrongful dismissal. When you consult an employment lawyer, they'll evaluate your case and decide the best legal path to take. 

For instance, certain types of cases should be filed in a civil court. In contrast, others need to be filed at the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission or any other relevant government agency. 

Drafting the Complaint
When you have a complaint against your employer, you'll need to submit it officially in writing to the relevant authorities. You'll also deliver a copy of the complaint to your employer. 

An experienced employment attorney can draft the complaint on your behalf, ensuring it meets all legal requirements before submitting it to the relevant parties. 

Helping With Discovery
Discovery is the process of exchanging information between two parties involved in a case. During this process, both parties will review important documentation regarding the case, such as employee's files, employment history, proof of wrongful termination, and so on. It's therefore essential that you have a solid case against your employer, and that's something an employment attorney can help you with.

How to Prove Wrongful Termination
When you file a wrongful termination lawsuit, you carry the burden of proof. This means that you have to prove that your dismissal was unlawful. To do this, you'll need the following:

  • statements made by the other party, such as your employer, supervisors, etc;
  • emails, text messages, or any other form of communication between you and the other party that establishes your wrongful termination claim;
  • witness statements or their contact information; and
  • time and date of the wrongful dismissal incident. 

It's important to note that the exact evidence needed for a wrongful dismissal lawsuit depends on the details of the case. 

When the other party realizes that you have a strong case against them, chances are they'll want to negotiate an out-of-court settlement. In that case, an attorney can negotiate on your behalf. However, if both parties fail to reach an agreement, your attorney may decide to take the matter before a judge. 

Calculating the Value of Your Case

An attorney can also help calculate the value of your case, ensuring you recover all if not most of the damages suffered as a result of the wrongful termination.

With the help of an experienced attorney, you may be able to recover the following damages in a wrongful dismissal lawsuit. 

  • cost of job searches;
  • attorney fees;
  • emotional distress;
  • punitive damages;
  • lost wages; and
  • medical expenses.

Understanding the Statute of Limitations for Wrongful Dismissal Cases

The statute of limitations for a wrongful dismissal case varies from state to state and also on a case by case basis. Some jurisdictions may require you to file a claim within three years, while others may give you up to ten years. 

Working with an experienced employment law attorney is one way of ensuring that you file a claim within the confines of employment law. If the statute of limitations expires, you may not be able to sue your employer over wrongful termination. 

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FAQ

Morgan & Morgan

  • Can You Sue Your Employer for Wrongful Termination if You Quit?

    One of the most common myths about wrongful termination is that you can't sue your employer if you decide to quit your job. On the contrary, you can still sue them if you can prove that your work environment was too toxic to the point where you had no other option but to quit. 

    Here's an example.

    Suppose you notify your employer about ongoing sexual advances towards you in the workplace. However, your employer refuses to act, leaving you with no option but to quit. This action is known as constructive discharge.

    In that case, you may be able to sue your employer even if they didn't fire you. The reasoning behind this is that your work environment was too toxic for any reasonable person to execute their duties.

    However, you'll also need to prove that you are a victim of constructive discharge by:

    • demonstrating that you were subjected to a hostile working environment;
    • showing that you filed a complaint to your employer about the hostile working environment and they did nothing about it;
    • demonstrating that the working condition was too toxic to a level that any reasonable employee would have no other choice but to quit; and
    • proving that you resigned because of mistreatment in the workplace.

    One of the most frustrating things about wrongful dismissal cases is that the law protects employers to a certain extent. Unfortunately, some employers take advantage of this privilege to abuse and mistreat their employees.

    For instance, even if you can prove the elements discussed above after quitting your job at your own will, it may not be good enough to guarantee victory when you sue your employer for wrongful dismissal. Instead, it may be just one more step in the right direction.

    When filing a wrongful dismissal lawsuit, the burden of proof weighs heavier on your side. 

    Here's a hypothetical example:

    Jane's supervisor makes sexual advances towards her during her shifts. She informs her boss about it, but nothing is done to change the situation. Jane's supervisor keeps making sexual advances towards her. When she informs her employer about it again, she's told to choose between her job or false claims against her supervisor. Frustrated that no one takes her claims seriously, Jane quits three days after her initial complaint and then files a wrongful dismissal lawsuit against her employer. 

    Suppose Jane provides all the evidence needed to prove that she was indeed sexually assaulted at work as described above. Unfortunately, the defense might claim that Jane was incompetent at work, thus her reason to quit. The defense might further argue that Jane quit her job on the third day of filing her complaint because she was more interested in securing compensation for “nonexistent damages.”

    As heartless and careless as it sounds, such things happen to many employees. Unfortunately for Jane and many other employees facing such a scenario, the only way they might be able to prove wrongful dismissal is by staying in a toxic work environment long enough to justify their decision to quit.

    But when it comes to cases involving sexual assault, one more day could lead to life-long trauma and other life-changing damages. No amount of compensation would be enough to undo the damages caused by such a toxic work environment. 

  • How Morgan & Morgan Can Help

    Since wrongful dismissal cases are complex, you need an attorney who understands employment laws and what it takes to navigate the broken system. In addition, you need an attorney who can build a strong case to prove beyond reasonable doubt that you were wrongfully dismissed from your previous job or it was a case of constructive discharge. 

    Many employees are usually afraid of suing big companies because of the obvious fact that such companies can afford some of the top lawyers in the country. But when you work with Morgan & Morgan, the largest personal injury law firm in the country, the defendant's size is the last thing you should worry about.

    Our employment lawyers have taken down even some of the toughest bullies in the country. When it comes to fighting for our client's rights, we don't back down until they receive reasonable compensation for their damages. 

    At Morgan & Morgan, we're not just all talk without action—we have a track record to show. For instance, in 2021, we helped our client recover $500,000 in punitive and emotional damages when her employer retaliated against her for reporting a sexual harassment incident.  

    When an employer wrongfully terminates you, this action alone could bring your life to a standstill. It's even worse if you have a family to take care of. The truth is, these employers have attorneys, too. 

    But the good news is that even though we're the biggest personal injury law firm in the country, we won't charge you anything unless we win. So if you're worried about whether you can afford an experienced, top-rated employment and labor attorney, it's time to cross that off your list of worries. So pick up the phone and dial 877-830-2711 to speak with one of our legal representatives today.

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