When you’re let go from your job, the embarrassment linked with being dismissed might prevent you from looking at the underlying reason for your termination in the first place. There are a variety of unlawful kinds of discrimination that can motivate an employer’s conduct, including sexual harassment and racial prejudice. These include various types of workplace misconduct that may result in wrongful termination.
So, what is wrongful termination and how can you know if you’ve been let go under these circumstances? And lastly, how can a wrongful termination lawyer help you?
What is Wrongful Termination?
While many people who are fired from their employment believe their termination was “unjust” regardless of the reason, the legal definition of wrongful termination is quite narrow. To be fired for an illegal cause, such as a violation of federal anti-discrimination laws or a contractual breach, is to be wrongfully terminated.
Simply put, wrongful termination is defined as the wrongful discharge of an employee in violation of their rights. Employees in the United States are protected from wrongful discharge under both federal and state law.
The majority of employees in the US are considered “at-will” employees, which means that they can be terminated at any time for any reason (or no reason at all). However, there are a few notable exceptions to this rule.
Employees who have an employment contract with their employer cannot be fired without just cause. This applies to employees who have an express contract, as well as those who have an implied contract, such as employees who have been employed for a long period of time or employees who have been given a raise or promotion.
Employees who are covered by a collective bargaining agreement cannot be fired without just cause unless the employer follows the procedures outlined in the collective bargaining agreement.
Employees can also not be terminated for discriminatory reasons, including discrimination based on race, color, national origin, sex, religion, age, or disability. Finally, employees who are whistle-blowers may not be fired for reporting illegal activity or safety violations in their workplace.
But how do I know if my case is a wrongful termination or not?
Examples of Wrongful Termination
- In 2018, a former Chipotle manager was rewarded $8 million by a California Superior Court in a wrongful termination case that appeared to be about the theft of $636.
Chipotle stated that Ortiz was fired for stealing $636 from the restaurant she managed in the lawsuit. Chipotle claimed that it possessed a video of the crime, but someone erased it before the trial. Chipotle also stated that it discarded all messages, notes, and memorandums concerning the manager’s termination. Ortiz claimed that she was fired because of her prior workers’ compensation claims and pregnancy, yet the court dismissed these allegations.
Ultimately the California court sided with Ms. Ortiz. Employees are entitled to workers’ compensation benefits for work-related injuries under federal law, and if eligible, time off for pregnancies under the Family Medical Leave Act. It is against the law for an employer to fire a worker in response to their rights under these regulations.
- Employee David Nelson had a stellar employment history at Radio Shack in Denver until he reached the age of 55. He was served with two performance improvement plans by his new supervisor that same year, which alleged unsatisfactory job performance.
Nelson took issue with his employer after the supervisor’s complaints were related to his age. Nelson was let go from a call center for Radio Shack after just five days, despite the fact that his “performance improvement plans” stated that his job performance should be reexamined at a later date.
The EEOC sued Radio Shack after Nelson was fired for complaining about his age and the company’s failure to promote him. Because of his concerns regarding retaliation and age discrimination, Nelson filed a claim with the EEOC. The case went to trial, in which Nelson was awarded $187,000 in back pay on his retaliation claim.
These examples show how dangerous and
How Can You Tell if You’ve Been Wrongfully Terminated?
If you believe that you have been wrongfully terminated, there are a few things you can do to determine if your termination was illegal. First, consult with an employment lawyer to learn about your specific rights. Next, review your employer’s personnel policies and collective bargaining agreement (if applicable) to see if your firing violated any of the terms. Finally, collect evidence that supports your claim, such as emails or witness statements.
How Can a Wrongful Termination Lawyer Help You?
If you have been wrongfully terminated, a wrongful termination lawyer can help you file a lawsuit against your employer. Your lawyer will investigate your case and determine if you have a valid claim. If you do have a claim, your lawyer will file a complaint with the court and represent you in negotiations or trial.
If you have been wrongfully terminated, contact an employment lawyer today to learn more about your rights.