What Should I Do if I Was Wrongfully Terminated - morgan and morgan
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Wrongfully Termination

What Should I Do if I Was Wrongfully Terminated?

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What Should I Do if I Was Wrongfully Terminated?

If you’ve just been fired from your job, you may be wondering if you can build a wrongful termination case. Perhaps your employer asked you to do something illegal, or perhaps they have engaged in discrimination when firing you. Before building your case, ensure you know exactly what qualifies as wrongful termination. If you find yourself in this situation, you’re likely wondering “What do I do if I was wrongfully terminated?” That’s a perfectly valid question, and Morgan & Morgan is here to help. We have attorneys who can review your case with you to determine if you were fired on the basis of unlawful reasons. If we believe you were, we can take your case on and you will only pay us if we win or settle your case. Contact Morgan & Morgan today for a free consultation.

What Qualifies as Wrongful Termination?

In all states, employees cannot be fired on the basis of discrimination or harassment of their gender, disability status, religion, race, or ethnicity. If you have a contract that states specific circumstances in which you can be fired, and your employer fires you for a different reason, you may have a case for wrongful termination. Additionally, if an employer asks you to do an illegal task and you refuse, you cannot legally be fired for your refusal. If an employer did something illegal and you reveal this, your employer cannot fire you as retaliation. An employer also may not fire you for making a legal complaint against them.

You may be wondering what classifies as legal reasons to terminate an employee. Almost all reasons outside of the ones listed above may be legal, such as a reduction in the workforce, a company going out of business, an employee’s poor performance, or an action that was the fault of the employee. Employers can even fire you for no reason at all, per at-will employment laws.

When considering your own case of termination, ask yourself questions about the circumstances surrounding your termination. If you feel you have been discriminated against, ensure you collect evidence, such as a written statement that could indicate your employer discriminated against you. If there was a breach of contract, ensure you can prove the contract was breached and retain your original contract. This can help you build and prove your case.

At-Will Employment

Cases for wrongful termination can get complicated in at-will employment states. All states follow at-will employment, which simply means that an employer can fire an employee for any legal reason as outlined above or no reason at all. This rule can make building a case for wrongful termination complicated, unless you have concrete proof of the actions outlined above. Some states, however, have distinctive exceptions to the at-will employment rule that may make your case easier to prove.

Exceptions to At-Will Employment

In all states except Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Maine, Nebraska, New York, and Rhode Island, a rule called the public-policy exception applies to at-will employment. What this rule signifies is that an employee is wrongfully fired when the termination violates a well-established public policy of the state in which they work. This public policy could be outlined in a state constitution, administrative rule, statute, or another type of state policy. One example of this exception is that an employer cannot fire an employee for filing a workers’ compensation claim when the employee is injured at work.

Another exception that all states use except for Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Missouri, Montana, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Texas, and Virginia is the implied-contract exception. This means that when an employer hires an employee, an implied contract exists, even if there is no explicit, written contract. If an employer makes verbal or written statements to their employee about job security or disciplinary procedures, this counts as an implied contract. Some other examples could include policies in an employee handbook, unless a waiver in the handbook states that the handbook does not create any contractual rights. Many handbooks simply state that their company follows at-will employment, but make sure you peruse your own employee handbook to see if there are different circumstances for termination.

A final exception that only 11 states follow, including Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, California, Delaware, Idaho, Massachusetts, Montana, Nevada, Utah, and Wyoming, is the covenant of good faith exception. This means one of two things: that a company’s personnel decisions are subject to a “just cause” standard or that firings in bad faith or motivated by malice are not allowed. For example, if an employer does not properly follow its stated personnel policies in a covenant of good-faith state, the employee terminated could have a case for wrongful termination.

Statutes of Limitations for Wrongful Termination

Although it may be stressful dealing with a wrongful termination case in addition to figuring out your future employment situation, you must be aware of the statute of limitations for wrongful termination cases in your state. If you do not file a lawsuit in time, you forfeit the right to damages.
Every state’s statute of limitation differs. All states have at least one year for their statute of limitations, but some states’ statute of limitations can be up to 10 years. Ensure you know the statute of limitations in your state before building your case.

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FAQ

Morgan & Morgan - Wrongful Termination Attorneys

  • Why Should I Hire a Lawyer for My Wrongful Termination Case?

    At-will employment laws can complicate cases for wrongful termination. Just because you were fired for no reason or what you feel is a bad reason does not mean that you have a case for wrongful termination. Working with a lawyer from the beginning of your case ensures that you truly have a genuine case of wrongful termination.

    If you did have a contract with your employer and you feel it was breached, it would be helpful to have an attorney look over the documentation for you. Some contracts can be lengthy, and a lawyer will be able to sift through the documentation on your behalf.

    Additionally, the statute of limitations for wrongful termination can be complicated to navigate. As outlined above, every state differs based on the type of wrongful termination, and even some states have additional stipulations depending on your situation. If you work with an experienced and knowledgeable attorney, they will know how to build your case in a timely manner so you are eligible for the compensation you deserve.

    Employers are typically aware that they cannot fire an employee for a legally protected reason, such as an employee’s race, gender, disability status, age, ethnicity, or sexual orientation. An experienced attorney will be able to sort through evidence to find inconsistencies in an employer’s reason for firing you. They can prove that you were fired for a false reason, commonly known as “pretext.”

    Working with a lawyer instead of building a case yourself can also allow you to search for different employment or focus on your own mental health after being wrongfully terminated. A quality lawyer can handle gathering evidence on your behalf so you can focus on yourself.

  • What Compensation Can I Receive for Wrongful Termination?

    If it is determined that you were wrongfully terminated, you are eligible for both economic and non-economic damages.

    In wrongful termination cases, economic damages include loss of past and present wages and loss of benefits. In some cases, back pay and front pay damages will be awarded. Back pay is compensation lost because an employee was wrongfully fired, calculated from the date the employee was fired until the time of trial. Benefits are typically included in this, such as medical and dental insurance, a 401k plan, stocks, and bonds. Bonuses and overtime pay may be factored in as well. Front pay is given to employees if they are reinstated at work. If they are not reinstated, a front pay award will typically be offered in its place.

    Non-economic damages are meant to help employees who have suffered emotional harm as a result of their wrongful termination. The losses can vary, but they typically include emotional harm or pain and suffering. These damages may be difficult to calculate, but if you work with a qualified attorney, they will be able to calculate the appropriate amount for a settlement and negotiate if necessary.

    Punitive damages may also be available, depending on your situation and the state that you were employed. They are meant to punish the employer if they committed a particularly egregious action when wrongfully terminating you. Not every case allows employees to collect punitive damages, but if you believe you deserve them, you may need to provide additional evidence.

  • Morgan & Morgan Is Here for You

    Wrongful termination can be challenging to prove due to the multitude of different laws surrounding it. It can be painful enough to deal with the aftermath of your wrongful termination. If you’re wondering “What do I do if I was wrongfully terminated?” — we can help. Ease your stress by reaching out to an experienced, qualified attorney who can get you the justice you deserve. Morgan & Morgan has attorneys across the United States, so no matter where you’re located, we can assist. We have recovered over ten billion dollars for our clients. Additionally, we work on a contingency fee basis, so you never pay us unless we win your case. Contact Morgan & Morgan today for a free and confidential consultation. 

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