What to Do If I Was Fired Unfairly

What to Do If I Was Fired Unfairly

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What to Do If I Was Fired Unfairly

There's a feeling of financial security that comes with having a job. So when your employer suddenly and unfairly terminates your employment, you may feel hopeless and unsure of what to do next. If that's what you or your loved one is going through, you'll be glad to discover that all hope is not lost.

In this article, we'll discuss, in detail, what you need to do if you were fired unfairly.

While there are so many things you can do in such a situation, these five are the most important.

Stay Calm

When fired from a job, especially due to unfair reasons, it's understandable that you might feel angry and disappointed at the same time. It's even worse if you didn't see it coming. Such a surprise development could ruin your entire day. But that's not all - if you don't have any savings, you'll likely be worried about your bills.

Who will pay your rent and utilities? What about your car payments and insurance? These are just some of the questions that will ring in your mind when you lose your job unexpectedly and for unfair reasons. In the middle of all the anger and disappointment, you may be tempted to communicate with your employer.

But this isn't usually the best time to discuss the termination with your employer. Remember, you're human, and anger is part of the series of emotions that would likely dominate your heart and mind at such a time. Communicating with your employer or anyone else when you're angry is one of the worst mistakes you can even make in such a situation.

If you can keep a cool head, you'll find it easy to calculate your next steps.

When your employer fires you unfairly, you may want to give them a piece of your mind. After all, what else do you risk losing if you've already lost the job?

If that's what you think, then you're wrong. You stand to lose even more if you contact your employer or address them rudely. Remember, most employers understand employment laws. For example, your former employer probably understands that it is illegal to fire an employee unfairly, even though most states uphold the at-will employment doctrine.

 

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  • What Is At-Will Employment?

    At-will employment describes an employer's ability to terminate an employee for any reason (or no reason at all), as long as the reason for termination is not illegal.

    We'll discuss legal and illegal reasons for employment termination shortly.

    So why exactly is it not advisable to communicate with your employer immediately after receiving the termination notice? Here's why:

    When an employer abruptly terminates your employment with them, you may be tempted to do or say things you don't mean. As we mentioned earlier, we're all human, and sometimes, we do or say things we live to regret. In this particular situation, your employer will be looking for a reason to blame you for the termination, especially when they know their reason for termination is illegal.

    Let's say you decide to write them an email using profanity. In that case, if you later decide to take legal action against your employer for wrongful termination, they could use your emails against you to claim that you're naturally an aggressive and unprofessional individual.

    In short, your former employer could come up with reasons to tarnish your reputation. The most important thing you need to know is that once your employer decides to terminate your employment with them, the chances of rehiring you are quite low. In fact, doing so could prove that their initial decision was wrong, making them seem even more guilty of wrongful termination.

  • How do You Find Out Why You Were Fired?

    Once you've calmed down, it's time to find out why you were fired. Again, remember to do so politely and professionally. Also, bear in mind that whatever you do (or say) could be used against you.

    Although most states allow employers to terminate their employment contracts with their employees for any reason (as long as the reason is not illegal) or no reason at all, chances are your employer will try to come up with a face-value reason. They'll do this in an attempt to seem fair, but that's not always the case.

    When you've been terminated unfairly and suddenly, without a prior warning or anything of that sort, chances are your employer's reason for termination is illegal. You can find out the reason for termination by contacting the employer, supervisor, or human resource manager.

    When you contact them to find out the reason for termination, request that they provide the reason in writing. Remember to stay calm throughout the process, even if your employer comes up with false or face-value reasons for ending your employment contract.

    For example, let's say your employer claims you were always late for work, yet deep inside, you know you've been clocking in and out on time. In that case, you should resist the urge to prove your employer wrong. Remember, it is pointless to prove to your employer that they fired you for the wrong reasons if they have already made up their mind.

    At that point, they just want a reaction from you to justify their actions.

    Your employer cannot fire you for any of the following reasons. If they do so, they'll have broken labor and employment laws both at the state and federal levels:

    • Discrimination based on sex, gender, race, age, disability, nationality, color, and other protected characteristics.
    • Retaliation for your participation in certain protected activities, such as filing a worker's compensation claim following an injury you sustained in the workplace
    • Refusal to participate in illegal activities in the workplace, such as corruption, misclassifying employees, etc
    • Breach of employment contract; your employer cannot fire you if your employment contract states the conditions under which you may be fired, and their reason for firing you does not meet these conditions
    • Refusal to take a lie detector test as a condition for keeping your job
    • Taking leave of absence for reasons protected by the Family and Medical Leave Act 
  • Can You Collect Evidence of Your Unfair Termination?

    If you believe that your employer terminated you for unfair reasons, you'll need to prove this by collecting the most relevant evidence. The evidence you'll need will depend on the circumstances of your termination.

    For example, if your employer claimed that you constantly showed up late to work as the reason for firing you, you may be able to prove them wrong by collecting evidence of your attendance. In that case, you may consider the following factors:

    • Did you keep records of your attendance?
    • If so, are you able to access these records?
    • Do you have any witnesses to confirm your attendance?

    The same applies if your employer accused you of being unproductive at work, yet you know you've been one of the most hardworking employees at the company. If so, you may need to collect any evidence that would prove your productivity. Examples of such evidence include:

    • Reviews from customers
    • Any awards you won while working at the company
    • Any positive feedback from your supervisors or any other company official, including the individual who authorized your termination
    • Any records of bonuses and other benefits you earned due to your productivity in the workplace

    When an employer fires you for unfair reasons, you may be able to find out the true reason they fired you if you read between the lines. For example, did your employer make negative comments about workers from a particular nationality, and you happen to be one of them? Think, and think hard. You might realize the truth your employer doesn't want you to know.

  • How to File a Complaint?

    Once you've gathered all the evidence, you'll need to file a complaint with a relevant state or federal agency. The most appropriate agency to file your complaint will depend on the specifics of your case.

    For instance, if you live in Washington, you may file your complaint with the Washington State Human Rights Commission or the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. These agencies would investigate your claim and impose administrative penalties if your former employer broke the law.

  • Contact a Wrongful Termination Attorney

    The other alternative is to contact a seasoned wrongful termination attorney. One major benefit of hiring such an attorney is that they're usually experienced in handling these kinds of cases.

    The first thing the attorney will do is investigate your claim. Usually, if you filed a complaint with a government agency and they found that your former employer violated the law, you may have the right to sue. That's where the attorney comes in.

    A seasoned attorney will go over your case to understand what it is all about. They'll then review the available evidence to determine whether it is strong enough before filing a claim or lawsuit on your behalf.

    Another thing you need to know about hiring wrongful termination attorneys is that, unlike government agencies, these attorneys can help maximize your claim. The damages you may be able to recover will mainly depend on the nature of your case.

    For example, if your employer terminated you due to discrimination, you may be able to recover the following damages:

    Back Pay

    This covers the lost wages from the date of termination to the time of trial.

    Front Pay

    This covers the wages you lost from the time of trial to the future and is usually available if you haven't yet secured a new job or if the new job pays less than the previous one.

    Lost Benefits

    Suppose you lost certain benefits at your previous job after termination. In that case, you may be able to recover them, up to a certain extent, if you win the lawsuit against your former employer.

    Legal Fees

    The court might award you compensation for the legal fees involved in pursuing the case. Examples of these fees include attorney and court filing fees.

    Out-of-Pocket Expenses

    If you spent money out of your own pocket to handle certain expenses arising from the wrongful termination, you might be able to recover these expenses when you win the lawsuit.

    Punitive Damages

    Although not guaranteed, these damages are awarded to the plaintiff to punish the defendant for their gross negligence. If the court finds that the defendant acted recklessly, chances are you'll be awarded punitive damages.

  • What Is the Statute of Limitations for Wrongful Termination Claims?

    The statute of limitations for filing a wrongful termination claim depends on the state and the nature of the claim. Most states have a two-year statute of limitations for these kinds of claims. However, when filing a complaint with a federal agency, such as the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, you have 180 days to do so.

  • Where Can I Find a Competent Wrongful Termination Attorney?

    While many law firms and attorneys handle these kinds of cases all over the country, it's important to work with only those with a proven track record. If that's what you're looking for, then your search ends at Morgan and Morgan, the largest personal injury law firm in the United States.

    Morgan and Morgan files the most employment litigation cases in the country, a true testimony of their competence in handling these kinds of cases. Besides, we have an army of over 800 experienced attorneys and powerful legal resources to fight for our client's rights.

    The size or reputation of your employer doesn't matter; we have a solid history of taking on some of the biggest companies in the country. If you or your loved one has been fired unfairly, we might be able to help.

    All you need to do is fill out our free case evaluation form. Then, one of our legal representatives will analyze your case and get in touch to discuss the next steps.

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