If you’ve recently been terminated, it’s not wrong to feel a lot of things. Becoming unemployed, after all, has a lot of implications and you may or may not have prepared for them. However, if you feel as though you’ve been terminated for the wrong reason, then you may be looking at a potential lawsuit.
According to FindLaw, while a lot of individuals may feel as though their termination from their job can be “wrongful,” and especially so if there was no clear basis for their termination, the legal definition of a “wrongful termination” is very specific.
For a brief background, a person is wrongfully terminated if they’re fired because of a reason that is considered illegal. This may involve the violation of contractual breaches and even anti-discrimination laws. This is why employers can’t fire employees based on disability, religion, ethnic background, gender, or race. Employers also can’t fire an employee that filed a legal complaint, or because they brought the wrongdoing of an employer to light. If you’re looking for more specifics, here are some legal factors when dealing with wrongful termination:
- Find out the limits of at will employment. In most states, employment is considered “at will,” which means employers may in fact fire you and you may quit regardless if a reason exists or not. However, termination that is done in retaliation, violates contractual obligations, or doesn’t follow anti-discrimination policies is illegal.
- Were you terminated despite protocol? Protocols are important despite the existence of contracts and at will laws. For instance, if the company policy states that you can only be removed after two warnings, and you were removed after one, you can file a claim for wrongful termination.
- Were you fired because of a protected trait? As mentioned, employers cannot terminate or do adverse actions against employees simply because they have a protected characteristic. These include disabilities, pregnancy, age, religion, national origin, gender, and race.
- Were you fired despite your contract? Once you’ve signed an employee contract, both you and your employer must follow the terms the contract has stated. Even if you haven’t signed one, if your employer made a verbal promise, they are still obliged to follow that “implied” contract. For instance, if you have a contract stating you have to do particular duties for six months, your employer may decide to have you stay or let go after six months. Terminating you prior to that can lead to more issues.
- Were you fired because of retaliation? As mentioned earlier, some states have different rules when it comes to protecting employees against retaliation from the moment you report activities of your employer that are unethical or illegal. If you’re also terminated because you didn’t perform something illegal, you have the opportunity to file the case.
- Were you fired because to took protected time off? Some states allow employees who worked for a particular number of hours to take unpaid leave to recover from illness or take care of a family member. These laws cover military service members on active duty, or if you’ve taken time off to serve on jury duty or vote. Your employer cannot fire you if you’ve taken any of these leaves.
Legal factors related to wrongful termination are more or less about the kind of reasoning your former employers have given you with regards to your termination. It’s important to assess whether or not they’re within your rights or if they’ve infringed upon your rights before deciding if a legal action is the needed course to take. Do click here if you’re in need of further legal assistance.