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Can I File a Lawsuit After Being Fired Without Cause?

Can I File a Lawsuit After Being Fired Without Cause?

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Can I File a Lawsuit After Being Fired Without Cause?

Yes, you can file a lawsuit, but only if the employer broke the law when they fired you. Generally, you may be able to file a wrongful termination lawsuit against your employer if they fired you for any of the following reasons:

Employee Retaliation

Your employer cannot fire you for engaging in certain protected activities at the workplace. Examples of such activities include:

  • Filing a complaint about discrimination in the workplace
  • Collaborating with investigators regarding an employer's conduct
  • Intervening to protect others from being mistreated at the workplace
  • Resisting harassment at the workplace

If you suspect that your employer fired you for any of the above reasons, or anything along those lines, you may be able to file a lawsuit against them. However, for the lawsuit to succeed, you'll also need to prove that:

  • you participated in a legally protected activity;
  • the legally protected activity was the primary cause of your employer's decision to fire you; and
  • you suffered adverse consequences due to your employer's actions. 


Although employers can fire you at will, the decision to fire you shouldn't be based on discrimination. Employment laws prohibit employers from discriminating against employees due to their:

  • Race
  • Color
  • Gender
  • Nationality
  • Disability
  • Age
  • Sexual orientation
  • Genetics 
  • Marital status
  • Pregnancy-related reasons
  • Military status

These conditions are usually known as protected classes. Each state has its unique employment laws with certain protected classes. For example, in New York, an employer can't fire you because of any of the protected classes mentioned above or if you have a prior arrest or conviction record. 

However, like other wrongful termination cases, when your employer fires you due to discrimination at the workplace, you must first file a complaint with the state or federal government. This is the only way you may be able to file a lawsuit against that particular employer. 

Public Policy Violations

An employer cannot fire you for reasons that violate public policies. These are the kinds of reasons that the public considers illegitimate grounds for firing an employee. For example, your employer cannot legally fire you if you:

  • disclose certain illegal activities within the company;
  • take time off to serve to attend jury duty;
  • take time off work to vote; or
  • take time off work to serve in the National Guard or military. 

Breach of Fair Dealing

It's illegal for an employer to fire you out of bad faith. For instance, some employers might fire you to prevent you from earning certain commissions you were eligible for. Unfortunately, this is something that happens in many workplaces across the country. 

Other examples of breach of fair dealing include: 

  • Employers misleading their employees about their eligibility for salary increases or promotions
  • Deliberately creating unfavorable working conditions for an employee, hoping to coerce them into quitting 
  • Making up false reasons to fire an employee while the actual reason is to replace them with someone willing to work for a lower salary

Implied Promises

If your employer promised you “permanent employment,” they can't fire you unless there's a specific reason that overwrites the agreement. However, this is usually difficult because most employers don't make such promises when entering into an employment agreement with an employee.

In fact, most employers usually have experienced contract attorneys who review these contracts in advance. As a result, many lawyers wouldn't recommend the promise of permanent employment unless in rare circumstances. 

In addition, to prove that the employer made such a promise, the ex-employee must provide evidence. This proof could be in the form of a written contract signed by both parties, a recorded meeting, etc. 

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  • What to Do After Being Fired Without Cause

    No one applies for a job expecting to be fired, especially without reason. However, it's always important to know what to do if that ever happens to you or your colleague. This is because life happens, and situations change. In a matter of days, you could go from being your employer's favorite employee to their worst enemy. 

    Although most states allow employers to fire and hire at will, this should be done within the confines of the law. So if you believe that your employer broke the law when they fired you, here's what you need to do:

    Stay Calm

    Understandably, it's frustrating to lose your job for malicious reasons. It's even worse if you're a committed and hardworking employee. Some employees lose their patience and temper and confront their employers when that happens.

    That's a bad idea. Here's why. 

    When you lose your temper and become aggressive, whether verbally or physically, your employer might use your actions against you. Remember, the rogue employer is looking for any reason to justify their actions, and you don't want to give them the satisfaction of watching you fall for that tactic. 

    Secondly, if you become violent or damage property at the workplace, your employer might file a lawsuit against you to recover the damages. Additionally, the judge won't easily believe your side of the story if you react violently, whether physically or verbally. 

    Instead, stay calm throughout the entire process. Then, listen to what the soon-to-be-ex-boss says about your conduct. 

    Request an Explanation

    You deserve to know why you were fired, although your employer doesn't have to explain themselves. But because they don't want to seem like they fired you without cause, they'll most likely come up with a fake reason. Don't argue your case with them.

    Document Everything

    Take your time to document anything to do with your termination. For example, did you receive any warning letter before being fired? If so, what was the reason for the warning? If you didn't receive any warning, document that as well. 

    Have there been any complaints about you at your workplace? If so, what were the complaints about? In most cases, when a rogue employer wants to fire you without cause, they'll most likely look into your file to find even the slightest of reasons. They'll do this even when they know that the reason for firing you might not be connected to any warning that already exists on your file.

    For example, if you received a warning for being late, it would make more sense if your employer terminated you because you kept showing up to work late. Using the same example, it would be inappropriate and illegal for an employer to fire you because of your religious beliefs and cite the warning in your file, even though the two are not related. 

    The type of evidence you need depends on the nature of your case. Generally, don't miss any opportunity to compile every piece of evidence you believe might be relevant to your case. This could include videos, images, text messages, emails, etc. 

    For instance, if you turned down your employer's sexual advancements, check if any CCTV cameras might have captured the incidents or eyewitnesses. If possible, collect their contact information and ask them if they'd be willing to testify if called upon. Most importantly, write down the chronology of events even if you remember everything clearly.  

    File an Official Complaint

    It might be difficult to file a lawsuit against that employer if you don't file a complaint first. Filing a complaint increases the credibility of your claims. Besides, it gives an independent authority the chance to review your complaints and establish whether the employer broke the law when they fired you. 

    It's also important to know the right state or federal agencies to file your complaint against your employer. Here are some examples of some of the most common agencies that handle different types of employment-related complaints: 

    Equal Employment Opportunity Commission: The EEOC is a federal agency that administers and enforces civil rights laws against discrimination in the workplace. You may contact this agency if your employer harassed or retaliated against you for participating in protected activities at the workplace. 

    Occupational Safety and Health Administration: Popularly known as OSHA, this federal agency handles all cases of unsafe workplace conditions.

    US Department of Labor: You can file a complaint with this agency if it's related to whistleblowing at the workplace. 

  • Contact a Morgan & Morgan Wrongful Termination Attorney

    Contacting a wrongful termination attorney from Morgan & Morgan significantly increases your chances of filing a successful lawsuit against your former employer. When your ex-boss discovers that you're being represented by a wrongful termination lawyer from Morgan & Morgan, they'll try to settle the issue out of court. This is because we have a strong reputation for fighting for our client's rights to compensation for damages suffered due to someone else's negligence. 

    When you contact us for a free case evaluation, we'll review your case and let you know whether you stand a chance of filing a successful lawsuit against your former employer. This is why it's always advisable to collect as much evidence as possible before meeting an attorney.

  • What's the Statute of Limitations for Filing a Wrongful Termination Claim?

    The statute of limitations for filing such a claim varies depending on your state. However, in most states, it ranges between two to six years. For example, in California, you have up to five years to file a wrongful termination lawsuit. In neighboring Washington, the statute of limitations for this type of claim is three years. 

  • What Is the Average Settlement for Wrongful Termination Claims?

    The average settlement for this type of claim is around $40,000. However, an experienced wrongful termination attorney can maximize your claim by factoring in every kind of damage you've suffered when fired without a cause. 

  • Why Do I Need a Wrongful Termination Attorney?

    The unfortunate truth about wrongful termination causes is that you carry the burden of proof even after being terminated without cause. This means that it's your responsibility to prove that your former employer fired you without cause. Unfortunately, in some cases, rogue employers might destroy evidence to prevent you from filing a successful lawsuit against them.

    Working with an experienced wrongful dismissal lawyer will introduce you to rights you never knew you had. Such an attorney will review your case and create a legal strategy to hold your employer accountable for their actions and seek the compensation you need and deserve. 

    Most importantly, the attorney will be your legal representative, meaning your ex-employer will be dealing with a completely different individual who's an expert in employment laws. This gives you peace of mind knowing that you're being represented by someone who understands both state and federal employment laws.

    These laws vary from state to state and on a case-by-case basis. As mentioned before, your employer doesn't need to prove that they had reason to dismiss you; the law naturally protects them.

    Many years ago, some states made it unlawful for employers to fire their employees without cause. However, in 2022, all states are now 'at-will' employment states, allowing employers to fire their employees without reason. Given that state laws are already against you, it's important that you work with an experienced attorney who'll navigate the complex employment laws and help you secure the compensation you design.

    Morgan & Morgan is the law firm to contact when you need such an attorney, and we have the track record to show. Most recently, in 2018, we helped one of our clients secure more than $1 million in compensation over a retaliation lawsuit. So talk to us today if you feel that you lost your job unfairly, and we may be able to hold your former employer accountable. 

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