Have you recently lost your job and felt it was unjust?
You are not alone. Many employees in the United States find themselves in a situation where they suspect illegal actions by their employers. It leaves thousands feeling powerless and confused.
But what if there is more to your termination than meets the eye? What if your dismissal violates employment laws or breaches the terms of your contract?
Keep reading to uncover the key elements of a valid wrongful termination claim. Equip yourself with the essential information and prepare to take the next step in asserting your rights!
Defining Wrongful Termination
Wrongful termination is more than just feeling unjustly removed from a job. It involves a breach of employment contract terms or violation of employment laws.
Understanding this concept requires a grasp of the legal frameworks that oversee employment. Federal and state laws, like the Civil Rights Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act, protect workers. Knowing these laws is essential to identifying whether a firing is unlawful.
There are common misconceptions about what wrongful termination is. Often, people think any firing without a solid reason qualifies. However, in ‘at-will’ states, an employer can legally fire an employee and give no justification.
Key Elements of a Valid Wrongful Termination Claim
A wrongful termination case hinges on a violation of federal or state ordinances. For instance, consider these scenarios that are valid grounds for civil action in most areas:
- Dismissals that discriminate against your gender, religion, or marital status
- Breach of contract where an employer violates their written terms for employment.
- Unfair practices such as layoffs based on age or pregnancy are valid grounds for civil action.
Violating specific status forms the cornerstone of many wrongful termination claims. These cases primarily involve terminations that go against specific legal protections for employees. For instance, the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prevents firings based on race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age (40 or older), and disability.
Examining Your Termination: Self-Assessment Guide
Reflecting on the reasons and circumstances of your dismissal is an essential process. Consider significant events preceding your termination, like filing a complaint or taking a vacation. Document every detail, including dates, conversations, emails, and incidents before and after you lost your job. This detail creates a critical timeline and context for missteps by your former employer.
Next, assess the legality of your termination. Could your dismissal be connected to protected characteristics like age, race, gender, or disability? Could your boss have acted in retaliation for a complaint or whistleblowing?
Compare your experience against company policies and any employment contracts. Check for deviations from these documents in your termination process. For instance, did you receive any prior warnings or performance feedback?
Once you’ve evaluated your situation, compile evidence backing your perspective. This compilation should include relevant communications, performance evaluations, and contractual terms. With this information, consult an employment lawyer for professional advice. They can assess your claim’s strength and offer guidance on your next steps.
Common Wrongful Termination Scenarios
Discrimination is the most common basis for valid wrongful termination claims. Picture an employee who has received positive reviews. However, she gets laid off shortly after announcing her pregnancy. The company claims this happened due to “restructuring.” Regardless, this circumstance could be a case of wrongful termination based on maternity.
Similarly, consider an older employee with a stellar performance history who gets replaced by a younger person. This situation may point to age discrimination.
In both cases, the terminations seem linked to protected characteristics (pregnancy, age) and not job performance. Federal laws, like the Age Discrimination in Employment Act and the Pregnancy Discrimination Act, safeguard against these situations.
Retaliation is another noteworthy ground for these claims. Imagine an employee reports unsafe workplace conditions or illegal activities by a supervisor. Then, they receive a dismissal for “unrelated reasons.” This scenario could constitute wrongful termination as well.
Finally, there are successful cases built around breach of contract. For instance, consider an employee’s contract that requires six months’ notice for termination. A sudden firing is a highly justifiable reason to take that organization to court.
Ask a Local Wrongful Termination Lawyer
Understanding how federal or state law works is fundamental to asserting your rights. If you believe your termination was unjust, you can take legal action. However, each case deserves specialized, qualified, and trained legal counsel.