How to Go About Wrongful Termination

How to Go About Wrongful Termination

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How to Go About Wrongful Termination

Being terminated by your employer for the wrong reasons can significantly impact your mental health, career, finances, and even more. The saddest thing about wrongful termination is that not so many people know how to go about it. Some just move on with their lives, hoping to find a new job. But that shouldn't be the case. If you or your loved one has been wrongfully terminated, you may have a case against your employer. 

This article covers some important things you need to know about wrongful termination, including how to handle it. Let's start with the basics first. 

What Is Wrongful Termination?

Wrongful termination is when an employer fires an employee for the latter's participation in protected activities. Employees all over the country are protected by federal and state laws. For this reason, while an employer can fire an employee at will, they cannot do so illegally. 

Below are some examples of wrongful termination. 

Discrimination

Your employer cannot discriminate against you in the workplace. If you got fired because you were discriminated against, you might have a wrongful termination case against your employer. Examples of discrimination in the workplace include:

  • Discrimination based on gender
  • Discrimination based on religious beliefs
  • Discrimination based on sexual orientation
  • Discrimination based on age
  • Discrimination based on disability

And many others. 

You may have a case against your employer if you or your loved one has been terminated based on the above reasons or anything along those lines. An experienced wrongful termination attorney can evaluate your case and advise you on how to proceed. 

Retaliation

Your employer cannot fire you for participating in certain protected activities. Just because you're their employee does not mean that you should agree with everything they do. In addition, employers cannot control certain aspects of your life or responsibilities in the workplace.

For example, your employer cannot fire you because you want to join a labor union. Labor laws protect such activities. Other protected activities include:

  • Attending jury duty
  • Taking time off to vote
  • Serving in the military
  • Offering to participate in investigations into the employer's conduct

Sexual Harassment

Any workplace in the US should be free from sexual harassment. Unfortunately, many workers constantly deal with the trauma of sexual harassment in the workplace for fear of losing their jobs. Such actions should never be tolerated. Not speaking up against sexual harassment only empowers the abuser because they know they will get away with it.

When you open up about sexual harassment in the workplace, you shouldn't be afraid of losing your job. More specifically, it is illegal for your employer to fire you because you refuse to tolerate this kind of harassment in the workplace. If your employer fired you because you either refused to tolerate their sexual advances or spoke up against them, you might have a valid case. An experienced sexual harassment attorney might be able to file a claim or lawsuit against the employer. 

FMLA Reasons

The Family and Medical Leave act allows employees to take leave from work for various protected reasons. They include but are not limited to taking leave from work to:

  • Give birth or take care of a newborn child
  • Take care of an adopted or foster child
  • Take care of a family member with a serious medical condition
  • Manage a serious medical condition that prevents the employee from working
  • Take care of a member of the armed forces who is seriously injured or ill

If you took time off work for any of the reasons explained above or any other protected reason, you should be able to resume working as usual. Your employer cannot fire you; that would violate FMLA laws. In fact, you may be entitled to up to 12 weeks of unpaid, job-protected leave. 

Wage Dispute

Some employers fire their employees for demanding what they are entitled to; their hard-earned salaries. You shouldn't beg your employer to pay you if you have worked that particular shift as expected of you. However, many rogue employers still terminate their employees for demanding what's rightfully theirs. 

Some employees get fired for blowing the whistle about certain tactics rogue employers use to avoid paying their employees what they owe them. Such tactics include, but are not limited to:

  • Requiring employees to work off the clock to avoid paying overtime
  • Not paying employees for time spent attending training, meetings, etc
  • Not offering employment benefits initially agreed upon between the employer and employee
  • Misclassifying workers as exempt
  • Encouraging workers to work during unpaid breaks
  • Paying workers fixed salaries when they should be paid hourly wages

Workers' Compensation

You can file a claim with your employer's insurer when you get injured in the workplace. But the truth is, some employers will not be happy about this. Why would your employer not be pleased that you filed a claim when they have insurance covering such claims? 

Firstly, like other insurance policies, workers' compensation insurance rates tend to rise when workers file claims. This is because the insurance company assumes that their client's workplace, in this case, your employer, is unsafe. As a result, workers' compensation insurance works just like standard car accident insurance - the more claims you file with the insurer, the higher premiums you may be required to pay.
And since your employer may not want to pay higher insurance premiums, they will likely not be happy with you filing a claim. 

Secondly, workplace injuries, especially severe ones, may give the employer a bad name. No company wants to be in the local headlines for failing to protect its workers by creating an unsafe work environment. So when such an injury becomes public, your employer will likely not be pleased about it. This could significantly impact the business, something your employer would rather not deal with. 

As a result, rogue employers will want you to downplay your injuries. But when it comes to matters concerning your health and well-being, you shouldn't compromise. Bear in mind that your employer makes profits off your hard work. And when you get injured in the workplace, you deserve compensation. 

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  • What Should I Do After Wrongful Termination?

    If you have been wrongfully terminated by your employer, it is important that you know what to do next. In fact, the steps you take after wrongful termination could make or break your case against your employer. While there are so many things you can do if you have been wrongfully terminated, here are five of the most important steps to take. 

    Stay Calm

    Although hugely underrated, this first step is usually the most important. Whatever you do right after wrongful termination could decide whether or not you have a case against your employer. Naturally, you will want to 'get back' to your employer after finding out that you've been wrongfully terminated. Specifically, you will want to send them a rude email or text or probably walk into their office and give them a piece of your mind. 

    After all, what's there to lose if you've already been terminated?

    Well, there's so much to lose if you don't stay calm after such an incident. In fact, upon realizing that you might have a wrongful termination case against them, your employer will hope that you do something that could jeopardize your case. They will want to use your actions or words against you to justify the termination.

    For example, if you threaten to retaliate against your employer after the termination, they could use this against you when you file a claim or lawsuit. The argument here is that you're a violent employee and a threat to other workers in the company. That's not necessarily true, but your employer will make such a claim to free themselves from liability.

    Find Out the Reason for Termination

    As mentioned before, most states follow the 'at-will' employment doctrine. This concept refers to your employer's freedom to hire or fire you at will. Because of this rule, your employer can fire you for no reason. Even so, they cannot fire you for an illegal reason. 

    It is therefore important to find out why you got fired in the first place. Obviously, you do not expect your employer to tell you that they fired you because they dislike your race, religion, or sexual orientation. Rather, they will devise a face-value reason to justify their actions. For instance, they could claim that you constantly arrive late to work.

    Such a reason could get you by surprise, especially when it is false. Deep down, you know you've been clocking in on time. You even have the timesheets to prove it. 

    Whatever the reason for termination, do not attempt to argue your case with your employer. On the contrary, collect as much information as possible about the reason for termination. 

    Collect Evidence

    You will need evidence to prove wrongful termination. The kind of evidence you will need depends on the reason for termination. For example, if your employer terminated your contract because they did not like your religion, you may be able to prove this with the right amount of evidence.

    Did they make any rude comments about your religion? Did anyone witness the incident? 

    The same procedure applies if your employer terminates you because you participate in any protected activities we discussed earlier. Regardless of the reason, you need evidence to prove your case. Collect as much evidence as possible, including pictures, videos, documents, etc.

    Collect the contact information of any witnesses to the incident if possible - their testimony could come in handy when determining fault. 

    File a Complaint

    There are so many different ways to file a wrongful termination complaint. For this reason, the exact process of filing a complaint depends on your state. Bear in mind that you can also file a complaint with federal agencies in certain situations. 

    Here are a few examples of agencies that handle these kinds of complaints. 

    The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission would be the ideal option if you were fired due to or for standing up against discrimination, harassment, and retaliation or for demanding your pay. 

    The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) handles claims relating to unsafe work conditions. 

    The US Department of Labor handles claims relating to whistleblower complaints.

    These agencies will evaluate your claim and investigate the incident. If your claim is valid, the agency will order your employer to compensate you for your damages. 

    However, the other option, which is highly recommended, is to contact an experienced wrongful termination attorney.

    Contact an Attorney

    Working with an experienced wrongful termination attorney comes with many benefits. Firstly, your attorney will save you time and energy by evaluating your case to help determine whether it is valid. Then, if you have a valid case against your employer, your attorney will walk you through the next steps.

    Based on your evidence against your employer, your attorney will let you know whether it is strong enough. The lawyer can also help you collect additional evidence to strengthen your case because they know what works and what doesn't. 

    Secondly, an experienced attorney can help you recover more than the initial claim. When you file a claim with one of the agencies described above, chances are they won't help you recover that much. But because an attorney always has your best interests at heart, they can assess your damages and maximize your claim whenever possible.

  • Where Can I Find a Good Wrongful Termination Attorney?

    Regardless of where you live in the United States, Morgan and Morgan wrongful termination attorneys can help fight for you. This is because we are the largest injury law firm in the country. 

    To put things into perspective, Morgan and Morgan files the most employment litigation cases in the US.

    And the best part of it all is that we offer free, no-obligation case evaluation. You don't deserve to be bullied by an ungrateful employer. Contact us today to schedule a consultation with an experienced wrongful termination attorney. 
     

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