Can I Sue My Previous Employer?

Can I Sue My Previous Employer?

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Can I Sue My Previous Employer?

If you have been fired or laid off from a job, there’s a good chance that you are angry at your former employer. You may even want to act out against them to make them feel as bad as they made you feel. This anger is common. The question is whether it is reasonable.

There are plenty of legitimate reasons that a former employer may have released you. At the same time, there are also many illegitimate reasons that they may have released you. If your former employer treated you inappropriately or unfairly, you may have a valid reason to file a lawsuit.

A lawsuit isn’t the type of action you should undertake on a whim. Before filing a lawsuit against a prior employer, you should consult with an experienced employment attorney who understands the law and can explain your options. 

Contact the employment lawyers at Morgan & Morgan to get a free case evaluation.

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Get answers to commonly asked questions about our legal services and learn how we may assist you with your case.

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  • When Can I Sue My Previous Employer?

    Not all former employees are eligible to sue their previous employers. Plenty of ex-employees were treated fairly during and after their employment. Although an ex-employee may be angry that they were released from their previous job, that anger alone doesn’t justify filing a lawsuit.

    You are eligible to sue a prior employer only if the employer treated you inappropriately. There are several ways that a previous employer could have wronged you. A Morgan and Morgan employment law attorney can definitively answer the question “Can I sue my previous employer?”

    The following is a partial list of reasons you can sue a former employer. 

    Breach of Contract

    Nearly all employees are subject to an employment contract. The contract details your duties and responsibilities to the company. It also details the duties and responsibilities that the company has to you.

    This second part is very important. If the company violated something that was stipulated in the contract, you have the right to sue the company. Your previous employer was bound by the contract just as you were. 

    When claiming that a prior employer breached your employment contract, you need to provide your attorney with a copy of the contract and evidence that the previous employer broke that contract.

    Inconsistent Discipline

    Employment contracts often spell out disciplinary actions the employer can take, if necessary. If you were disciplined in a way that was inconsistent with the contract, you can sue for breach of contract. 

    Even if the contract wasn’t broken, you might be eligible to sue if you received harsher disciplinary consequences than others who engaged in the same behavior. 

    If you can prove that you were disciplined for an infraction in a way that was inconsistent with most or all other employees who participated in that infraction, you have grounds to sue.

    Pay Discrepancies

    Your employer is required to pay you in full regularly. However, there are numerous ways that employers may try to take advantage of their employees by not paying them fairly or in a timely manner. 

    Any of the following pay discrepancies may make you eligible to sue a former employer:

    • Paid less than your agreed-upon hourly wage or salary
    • Paid for fewer hours than you worked
    • Pay docked for any reason
    • Not being paid for overtime hours
    • Not being paid for state-mandated breaks
    • Not receiving compensation for out-of-pocket expenses incurred for work duties
    • Not paid on time
    • Not receiving your final paycheck

    The easiest way to prove a pay discrepancy is to keep records of all of the hours you worked and all of the pay you received. Any discrepancy can be easily calculated if you have excellent records.


    Employers are required to maintain a safe environment for their employees. Harassment, including sexual harassment, creates an unsafe environment. 

    After you report harassment to management, your employer is supposed to prevent future occurrences and discipline the person or people responsible for harassing you. If they failed to do so while you were an employee, you can file a lawsuit even after you are no longer working there.


    When you report that you are being harassed or report illegal behavior at your workplace, your employer can’t legally fire you for making the report. Despite this rule, many employers fire employees in retaliation for such reports. 

    It isn’t always obvious, but if you were let go shortly after reporting bad workplace conditions, the odds are that you were fired in retaliation. When this happens, you should speak to an employment attorney as soon as possible to protect your rights.

    Wrongful Termination

    A wrongful termination lawsuit is usually based on a breach of contract. Many employment contracts provide specific reasons that an employee can be terminated, and there are usually certain steps the employer must take before initiating termination.

    However, this isn’t the only way you can be wrongfully terminated. Discrimination can also be a cause for wrongful termination. If your employer fires you for your race, gender, religion, or because you belong to some other protected class, you can sue for wrongful termination.

    Defamation of Character

    Many people believe that it is illegal for a previous employer to say anything bad about them after they are no longer an employee. That isn’t true. 

    Some employers will refuse to provide information about previous employees because they want to avoid lawsuits, but that isn’t always the case. As long as your previous employer is being strictly truthful, they can say anything they want about you to others.

    However, if your previous employer intentionally lies about you or your behavior while at your prior job, you may sue for defamation of character. These lies could prevent another job from employing you, which would cost you income. If there’s ever a good reason to sue a former employer, this is one of the best.

  • What Is The Expectation From a Lawsuit Against a Previous Employer?

    Because there are so many reasons for potentially suing a prior employer, every lawsuit of this type is different. Despite this, some things are largely the same for every lawsuit against a previous employer.

    For starters, you should always contact an employment lawyer as soon as you see the first signs of unfair behavior toward you. Usually, this means you will be speaking to a lawyer before you lose your job. The earlier you contact an employment attorney, the easier it will be to prove your case when you finally go to court.

    Once you have contacted an attorney, you should start collecting evidence that will support your case in trial. If you can, keep digital and physical copies of all evidence. Your attorney will seal and date any evidence you provide them, so you can prove exactly when it was collected. 

    When collecting evidence of communications, be wary not to break recording laws in your state.

    While you are collecting evidence, you need to avoid telling your employer that you are considering filing a lawsuit. Maintain cordial relations as best you can and don’t give any indication about your intentions. 

    Your attorney may instruct you to make requests of management or report problems, but you should only do that as instructed by your attorney.

    Your lawsuit will usually start in earnest after you are no longer an employee. Once it begins, your lawyer will handle most of the work. The only major thing you need to do is avoid sharing details of your lawsuit with anyone until it is complete.

    If you didn’t contact a lawyer until after you were fired or laid off, you will find it more difficult to collect evidence. You still need to collect as much evidence as possible as quickly as possible. Former coworkers with whom you are still friendly may be able to help you gather evidence that you no longer have access to.

    To learn more about your options and how to proceed when you have been treated unfairly by a prior employer, speak with a Morgan & Morgan employment attorney today.

  • Can I Sue My Previous Employer for Breach of Contract for Actions That Happen After I’m Fired?

    Many employment contracts limit the behavior of both employer and employee during and after employment. For example, if your contract requires your previous employer to give you severance pay after you are laid off, and you aren’t paid, you can sue for breach of contract.

  • Can I Sue My Previous Employer if They Didn’t Pay for My Remaining Vacation Days?

    In many states and many employment contracts, employers are required to pay for any remaining vacation days when they release you. That money may be included in the final paycheck or may be paid later as a single check. If you never received that compensation, you have grounds to sue.

  • How Much Money Can I Get After a Previous Employer Illegally Underpaid Me?

    The laws differ in every state, but you can always get back the unpaid wages that your previous employer owes you. In most states, you will also receive additional compensation based on how much you were underpaid. 

    For example, a jury might award you three times the value of back wages that you are owed as punitive damages paid by your prior employer.

  • Can I Sue My Previous Employer if I Have an Arbitration Clause in My Previous Employment Contract?

    Unfortunately, if your previous employment contract had an arbitration clause, there is usually no way to file a lawsuit. However, you can still have an arbitration lawyer present during your arbitration. 

    A Morgan and Morgan arbitration attorney will help you get the compensation you deserve from arbitration and make sure that your rights are protected during arbitration proceedings.

  • Do I Have to Sue to Get Compensation From a Previous Employer for Unfair Behavior?

    A lawsuit is an action of last resort when all other options have been exhausted. In the best-case scenario, your employment attorney will negotiate a fair settlement that compensates you for the behavior of your previous employer. 

    Because a settlement will get you money more quickly, your lawyer will often attempt to negotiate one before filing a lawsuit on your behalf.

  • Where You Can Get Help to Sue a Previous Employer

    The experienced attorneys at Morgan & Morgan understand all of the complexities of employment law. We have employment lawyers ready to help in every state of the U.S. If you have been wronged by a previous employer and want to file a lawsuit to get compensation, contact us today for a free case evaluation.

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