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What Should I Do If I Got Wrongfully Fired?

What Should I Do If I Got Wrongfully Fired?

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What Should I Do If I Got Wrongfully Fired?

You feel a tap on your shoulder and look up from your work. Your supervisor is standing behind you, holding a cardboard box and flanked by security. For most people, that is the first and only warning they receive when getting fired.

It is a humiliating experience in even the best of circumstances. And when you suspect you are getting fired for illegal reasons, it is even worse. While there is usually nothing you can do to get your job back, you can get compensation for being wrongfully terminated.

To receive the compensation you deserve, use our online contact form to schedule a free consultation about your wrongful termination claim with the attorneys at Morgan & Morgan.

Understanding Wrongful Termination

Employment is considered to be at least partially at will in every state in the country. This means that your employer does not need to provide a reason to fire you from your job. Many people assume this means that employees can be fired for any reason at all. But this is not the case.

Federal law makes it illegal to fire employees in certain circumstances. These circumstances are:

  • Discrimination based on age, race, or gender
  • Termination in violation of workplace rules
  • Terminating a whistleblower
  • Retaliation for legal behavior
  • Firing a worker who refuses to engage in illegal behavior

If you have been fired for any of these reasons, you may file a wrongful termination lawsuit against your former employer. Federal law allows you to receive both compensatory and punitive judgments as a result of the lawsuit.

Most Common Reasons for Wrongful Termination

Wrongful termination is disturbingly common in the U.S. Employers usually hold almost all of the power in an employer/employee relationship. As a result, employers usually believe they can do anything they want.

Furthermore, managers and supervisors often ignore company policy or employee handbooks when making firing decisions. This disregard for “red tape” is a violation of employee rights and the most common reason for wrongful termination. Even though your supervisor might have made an illegal decision, you still have the right to sue the company for that decision.

Discrimination is the next most common reason for wrongful termination. Workplace discrimination can often be shockingly blatant. Because many supervisors feel they are above repercussions, they will discriminate against some employees without trying to hide their actions. If they receive any pushback, they will often fire that employee illegally.

Suspicion of Wrongful Termination

Not all wrongful termination is obvious. Oftentimes, fired employees only have a suspicion that they were fired illegally.

If you have suspicions, you still have the right to act. Consult with a lawyer who specializes in workplace law. Your lawyer is more familiar with the law and common ways that workplaces violate the rights of employees.

The sooner you hire a lawyer, the sooner they can investigate the situation. Interviews with your previous coworkers or research into the employment practices of your ex-employer may result in evidence of malfeasance.

You have nothing to lose by consulting with a lawyer and potentially everything to lose if you don’t.

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FAQ

Morgan & Morgan

  • How Can I Prove I Got Wrongfully Fired?

    Proving any wrongful termination suit can be difficult unless you have a preponderance of evidence. Otherwise, it is simply your word against that of your former employer.

    The easiest way to prove wrongful termination is to document illegal behavior the moment you observe it. Is your boss telling racist jokes in the office? Document the time, place, and people present, recording the incident if it is possible and legal in your state.

    Similarly, keep physical and digital copies of all illegal communication. Examples of communication you might preserve are:

    • Emails
    • Text messages
    • Voice mail
    • Paper memos
    • Contracts
    • Message board conversations

    Since most communication will probably go through the internal communications of your employer, you should make personal copies of important evidence. That way, you can’t lose access to your collected evidence when you lose access to work phones and computers.

  • Am I Protected by State Laws?

    Most wrongful termination cases rely on federal guidelines. However, some states have strong worker protections that can be used to file suit, even when federal statutes don’t apply.

    For example, employment in the state of Montana is only considered at will for the first six months. After that, the employer must provide just cause for firing an employee. This means that if you are fired in Montana after your six-month probation period and are not provided a reason, you can sue for wrongful termination.

    Almost every state has public policy exemptions to at-will employment, though these protections mostly overlap with federal protections. A few states have more robust protections that can potentially be the basis of a wrongful termination lawsuit. Usually, we consider federal protections first at Morgan & Morgan, but if state protections apply, we are fully prepared to litigate based on state laws.

  • If I Got Wrongfully Fired as Retaliation, What Should I Do?

    Federal law provides whistleblower protection for employees who report illegal activity in the workplace. In addition to any criminal consequences that may come from those activities, retaliation earns a whole slew of additional consequences.

    If you were subject to retaliation, Morgan & Morgan will help you file a wrongful termination suit in civil court and advise the proper federal authorities. When your employer compounded their mistake by retaliating against you, you became eligible for a significantly increased award. We will work diligently to get you the fullest compensation possible.

  • What if I Quit Before I Got Wrongfully Fired?

    Usually, if you quit your job, you can’t claim wrongful termination. However, in some cases, this isn’t true.

    Specifically, if you are subject to such a hostile environment that you feel that you must quit to escape it, you may be eligible to file suit. Some employers will make your time at work increasingly (and illegally) miserable just to force you to quit. Afterward, because you weren’t fired, they will try to deny you the benefits you would have received if you had been fired.

    This behavior is horrid, and we see it all too often at Morgan & Morgan. Technically, you weren’t wrongfully terminated, but your rights were still violated. And because your rights were violated, your lawyer can get significant compensation both for what you suffered while at work and for earnings you lost from quitting.

  • What Compensation Can I Receive if I Got Wrongfully Fired?

    Compensation for a wrongful termination suit depends on the circumstances surrounding your case. To begin, you will always be eligible to receive all back pay, unpaid wages, and other unpaid compensation that you are owed.

    The main source of compensation in a wrongful termination suit, though, will usually be lost potential wages and punitive damages. The lawyers at our law firm can determine precisely how much you would have earned in the future if you hadn’t been illegally fired, and we can often get awards for months or even years of potential earnings. Furthermore, punitive damages are often awarded, with higher values for more egregious behavior.

    Additionally, if your employer has broken a covenant of good faith, you may be eligible for bonuses you probably would have received if you were not illegally fired. For example, if you had negotiated a bonus for working 2,000 hours during a year, and you were fired just short of that 2,000 hours, we would argue that was a breach of good faith and fight to get you that bonus. Any implied rewards or benefits are fair game when seeking compensation.

  • Can I Receive Unemployment if I Got Wrongfully Fired?

    Unemployment rules differ from state to state, but as a general rule, you should be eligible to receive unemployment if you were terminated from your job against your will. Your former employer can oppose your unemployment if you were fired for cause.

    When you have been wrongfully terminated, it is illegal for your former employer to oppose your unemployment. However, since your employer has already violated your rights, there is a good chance your employer will oppose your unemployment.

    If you are denied due to employer malfeasance, your Morgan & Morgan lawyer will guide you through the unemployment appeals process to help you get your owed money as quickly as possible. We will also use that illegal activity to argue for greater awards from a wrongful termination lawsuit.

  • Can I Join a Class-Action Lawsuit?

    There are cases where a class-action lawsuit is an appropriate response to wrongful termination. For example, fired black teachers filed a class-action lawsuit against Chicago Public Schools in March of 2022.

    However, cases like this are uncommon. Usually, you are better off filing as an individual to take advantage of the specific details of your case. You can still cooperate with other illegally fired employees to make stronger cases for everyone. By filing as an individual, you can’t be bound by a settlement that may not offer you the compensation you deserve.

    Despite this recommendation, if we should ever determine that you are best served by joining a class-action lawsuit, we will advise you immediately. Your best interests are always our top concern at Morgan & Morgan.

  • Should I Accept a Settlement Offer From My Former Employer?

    Many wrongful termination cases never go to trial. If you have compelling evidence or if the cost of a trial would outweigh the cost of a settlement, your employer will probably offer to settle out of court.

    Your Morgan & Morgan lawyer will determine whether the settlement offer is fair and will make a recommendation based on that determination. You are not required to follow that recommendation. You can choose to go to trial, even if a fair offer is made, and you can choose to take a settlement, even if a poor offer is made. We understand that you have to make the best decision for your situation.

    If you are offered a settlement, it will probably include a non-disclosure agreement. If you aren’t comfortable with that, we can negotiate to remove that agreement, but refusing to sign one will often require a court trial.

  • Hire an Employment Law Specialist Today

    If you have been recently fired and suspect it was an illegal termination, use our contact form to schedule a free consultation with an employment attorney at Morgan & Morgan today.

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