What Is Considered to be Wrongful Termination?

For what, under US law, can employee legally be terminated? What route to compensation do they have if they have been fired unlawfully?

Getting fired from a job is one of the most stressful things that can happen to a person. If you have recently been fired and you believe that you were discriminated against, you may have wondered if you will be able to prove it. According to employment attorneys, your situation may not be as hopeless as you think.

You are probably already aware that if you have been discriminated against,  you can complain to the EEOC. If an employer has broken a contract with you, you probably are aware that you can sue. There are a few circumstances that need to be present for you to have a successful wrongful termination lawsuit.

You Were Under Contract

The vast majority of the employment agreements in the United States are at will. This means an employer can fire you at any time without a reason. There are a handful of jobs where you will have an employment contract. Some Employment contracts state that you must be fired “for cause.”

The “cause” you are terminated for must be specified in the contract. There are also some cases where it may be specified in state law. Normally cause will include failure to perform a project correctly or disclosure of company secrets.

You are Being Retaliated Against

Did you blow the whistle on your employer for violating public policies or laws? If you talked to the Internal Revenue Service about your company misreporting funds or called the EEOC about another employee being harassed and your employer responded by demoting you, firing you, or intimidating you in any way, you can sue them for wrongful termination.

The “cause” you are terminated for must be specified in the contract.

If you filed a worker’s compensation claim because you were injured at work, or if you reported your boss to HR for inappropriate behavior, they are not allowed to retaliate against you.

You Experienced Discrimination at Work

If you have been denied a promotion, terminated, or excluded from work meetings and activities due to your race, sex, age, or orientation, you can file a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunities Commission.

If filing a complaint with the EEOC, you will be asked to provide evidence of discrimination. It is a good idea to keep a work diary, you should keep copies of performance reports and sales records as well.

The EEOC will review your case and decide if you can move forward with the lawsuit. If you can, you should hire an employment attorney, who will be able to negotiate with your former employer on your behalf. If you end up having to take your employer to court, an attorney will be able to subpoena the company’s records on your behalf.

Being able to subpoena records may be very important in a wrongful termination lawsuit. You will have to establish that you were discriminated against by a judge or jury. Although a diary you kept may be helpful, the company’s actual records will be even more beneficial.

For example, If you suspect you were excluded from meetings because of racial discrimination, you will have to prove that this meeting you were not invited to actually took place and that you were not invited to it because of your race. The employer will have a record of the meeting you were excluded from and a list of people who were invited to the meeting. If those records show that everyone who was invited to the meeting was not of your race, you may have a better chance of proving your case.

You Were Organising Labour

If you and your coworkers have been attempting to form or join a union and your employer demoted or fired you because of it, you may be able to file a claim against them.

The National Labour Relations Act prohibits employers from firing or otherwise punishing employees for organising strikes or engaging in collective bargaining. The act only protects those employees who are working as a group to change labor conditions.

The legendary feminist writer Alice Walker once said, “The most common way people give up their power is by thinking they don’t have any.”

Although may have to go through some red tape and deal with a regulatory board or two, you can fight discrimination and injustice in the workplace.

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