Wrongful Termination in Washington, D.C.
What Is Wrongful Termination?
While an employer does have discretion over the hiring and firing of employees, there are certain circumstances where a worker can file for wrongful termination. Termination becomes wrongful when it violates Washington, D.C. law, federal law, or an employment agreement. Being fired from a job is never easy. A dedicated wrongful termination lawyer understands your rights as an employee and will fight to protect them.
The Employment Law Handbook states that due to Title 7 of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, no employer in Washington D.C. can fire an employee on the basis of age, sex, race, or national origin. Any such action is illegal, and punishable by law.
Types Of Wrongful Termination
In Washington, D.C., there are many different instances where wrongful termination can take place. In some cases, an employer is ignorant of labor laws and may not even realize they have erred. This is why big corporations rely on human resources experts. You should always turn to an attorney if you suspect you have been wrongfully terminated. In the following paragraphs are some of the red flags that you should watch out for.
Limitations of At-Will Employment
Because one of the most common forms of employment is at-will, there are limitations to this. At-will employment doesn’t allow an employer to fire a person for any discriminatory reason. Washington, D.C. state, federal, or local laws prohibit these reasons.
The Washington D.C. Department of Employment Services recognizes that employees in Washington D.C. are “at-will” employees. So long as an employer does not violate discrimination statutes, existing contracts, or collective bargaining agreements, the employer can fire an employee at any time, for any reason.
An employer also can’t fire an employee as a form of retaliation for reporting any illegal activities within the company. Were you fired for any of these reasons? If so, you may be able to file a wrongful termination lawsuit against your employer.
Discrimination is one of the most common forms of wrongful termination. When an employee is fired because of their race, religion, sex, national origin, ethnicity, pregnancy, age, or disability, it violates established laws meant to protect specific personal characteristics. There are also some states that prohibit employers from discriminating based on the gender identity or the sexual orientation of their employees.
If you believe that you have been penalized or fired in Washington, D.C. for one of these discriminatory reasons listed above, you may be able to file a claim with the United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. An experienced Washington, D.C. attorney can walk you through the process to help ensure the best possible outcome.
Your employer can’t fire you for certain protected activities. For example, your employer can’t fire you for taking medical leave, or for participating in an investigation of job violations and wage violations. Additionally, filing a complaint with the EEOC, or informing your employer about discrimination or harassment, are not fireable offenses.
The District of Columbia Whistleblower Protection Act ensures that firing an employee for exercising their rights is illegal. These laws shield employees from retaliation by their employers if they report illegal activities or workplace violations to their superior, or to the appropriate governmental representative.
There are some states that also prevent employee termination for taking time off to vote, perform jury duties, or serve in the military. You also have some protection if your employer has fired you for reporting a violation of safety laws or environmental regulations.
What To Do If You’ve Been Wrongfully Terminated in Washington, D.C.
Have you been wrongfully terminated? You may be entitled to compensatory damages, reinstatement, back pay, and other forms of relief. However, the exact definition of wrongful termination will depend on where you live. To find out, contact a dedicated and qualified wrongful termination lawyer. Discuss your circumstances and the Washington, D.C. laws that your employer has to follow in your area.
Remember that there are usually time constraints on how long you can wait to file your claim, so don’t delay. This could cause evidence to slip through your fingers or you may miss the deadline altogether. You want a favorable outcome and so will your lawyer, so try to approach your case as proactively as possible, even before you are certain you have one.
Employees in Virginia have 180 days to file a claim. If this time lapses, you risk going beyond the statute of limitations.
Step One: Gather Evidence
It’s important to start gathering all the evidence you can, no matter how small. Ideally, you had reason to suspect that your employer might terminate you wrongfully and started the process some time before. If you need to return to the office to clear out your desk or still have access to the work email, use the opportunity wisely. However, be mindful of any employment agreements or confidentiality issues.
Step Two: Find an Attorney
Hiring an experienced Washington, D.C. wrongful termination lawyer will help you take the first steps so that you make a strong case to get the outcome you seek. Washington, D.C. employment laws are intricate and are constantly changing. Therefore, you should always work with an attorney who focuses on this specific area.
Step Three: File a Complaint
If you have not yet had your case reviewed by an attorney, the EEOC built a self-evaluation tool to help you decide if filing a claim with them is an appropriate way to handle your case. An attorney simplifies this part of the process by helping you to write the complaint. You serve your employer notice. Then, the resolution process starts there. Note that not all cases make it to a courtroom as some employers prefer to settle.
The DC Office of Human Rights urges you to file a claim if you feel you have been the victim of discrimination. You can file your claim in-person, or by mail. You do not have to have the complainant notarized, but you will still have to sign a copy of the charges under penalty of perjury.
Why You Should Hire A Wrongful Termination Lawyer
Filing a wrongful termination lawsuit in Washington, D.C. can be overwhelming, especially if you’ve been treated unfairly by your employer. Speaking to an experienced lawyer can help you to understand what legal rights you have as a victim and if your case is applicable for wrongful termination. For some people, the opportunity to finally be heard also helps to ease the burden they’ve been carrying.
We understand that finding the right attorney can be hard. This is why we created our service to connect clients in need with experienced Washington, D.C. attorneys. To match with the right lawyer, you simply provide your location, category, and some other additional information. We then send you your options as soon as they are available.
Our company charges no fees to connect you with the legal services you need. Some Washington, D.C. attorneys or practice areas may require legal fees upfront, but there are many that do not. Some professionals may not charge a single penny at all until they win your case.
Are you ready to find a qualified Washington, D.C. attorney who can help you fight for your job or get justice for the wrongful termination you suffered? We can even help you connect with an attorney across Washington, D.C. state lines.
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