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Wrongful Termination Lawyer

Losing a job is always painful and if your termination looks suspicious, it can be even more disheartening. Nonetheless, there are some laws laid down to protect your rights in case of wrongful termination. In case any of the statutes are violated you qualify for compensation. Hiring a wrongful termination lawyer is a good idea in such situations. An expert attorney understands the intricacies of the law and can help you get the compensation you deserve.

Understanding the “Employment at Will” Doctrine

Most states in the United States follow the “Employment at Will” doctrine. According to the doctrine, the legal system assumes that the employer and employee create the employment relationship at will and are not bound to it by anything other than their own desires to continue the association. Either of the parties can end the association with or without a cause. Simply stated, the doctrine makes it legal for employers to fire employees for any or for no reason. But there are exceptions to the doctrine. There are instances where the firing of an employer can be deemed illegal.

What Is Wrongful Termination?

The laws that deem firing illegal fall under the wrongful termination category. Wrongful termination laws outline the rules that determine whether the termination of an employee was legal and the remedies to be taken if it was not. These laws evaluate whether the employer honored the contract with the employee or breached it while terminating them. Besides, this termination based on discrimination is also illegal and can be challenged in court. The laws help you keep your job or sue your employer for compensation.

What Qualifies as Wrongful Termination?

The following instances qualify as wrongful termination:

Breach of Written Promises

If the employer breaches a written contract or any other legal statement that proves you are not an at-will employee. In case the employer breaches the terms of your termination as stated in the contract, it classifies as wrongful. Besides a contract, an offer letter from the employer outlining your terms of employment can also be used to prove that you are not an at-will employee.

Breach of Implied Promises

An implied agreement based on what your employer said and does is another form of agreement that can be used to stake a wrongful termination claim in court. These claims are harder to prove in court with no concrete statement or letter to justify it. Most employers are cautious and do not make any promises while hiring employees. But there have been instances where implied promises can help your case. Instances such as employers promising permanent employment or employment through a specific period or breaching a specific manual set by them for disciplining employees are considered to be implied promises.

When deciding if an implied agreement existed, courts review the following:

  • Duration of the employment
  • The regularity of promotions an employee receives
  • All the positive performance reviews an employee receives
  • Any promises of permanent employment made by the employer
  • Whether there was a breach of the standard procedures laid down by the employer when firing an employee
  • Whether the employer made any promises of permanent employment when hiring an employee.

Breach of Good Faith and Fair Dealing

If you feel you that your employer acted unfairly while terminating you, he can be held accountable for a breach of good faith and fair dealing. The following instances classify as a breach of the duty of good faith and fair dealing:

  • Terminating or transferring employees to avoid paying them sales commissions
  • Making false promises or wrongfully hinting about an employee’s chances of promotions and pay increase
  • Using unjustified reasons to fire employees to hire a replacement that is ready to work for lower wages
  • Downplaying the risks or negative aspects of the job such as visiting dangerous neighborhoods
  • Creating unfavorable situations for an employee to force them to quit without availing any severance or benefits that otherwise will be due

Some states do not recognize the breach as an exception to the at-will employment doctrine. On the other hand, some states consider good faith and fair dealing only if there is a valid contract signed by the employee and the employer.

Breach or Violation of Public Policies

A breach or violation of public policies during termination is considered to be illegal even in the case of at-will employees. Violation of public policy means firing an employee for a reason or reasons considered unjust or illegitimate by society.

Many states and federal laws recognize the following reasons for termination as the violation of public policy:

  • Exposing company for policies that deny employees from getting their commissions or accrued vacation pay
  • Taking a medical leave from work
  • Being unavailable at work for voting
  • Serving in the military or National Guard
  • Notifying the concerned authority about the company indulging in wrongdoings that can harm the public

Other violations of the public policies are:

Discrimination

It is illegal for employees to fire employees due to discriminatory reasons. Employers cannot fire an employee because of their race, religion, color, sexual orientation, age, disability, the nation of origin, gender, age, genetic makeup, or pregnancy. In case you feel you were fired due to any of these reasons, you will be required to register a complaint with a state or federal agency before suing your employer.

Retaliation

Firing employees in retaliation to them participating in legally-protected activities is considered as wrongful termination. To prove you lost your job due to your employer’s retaliation, you are required to prove all of the following:

  • You need to provide proof of your involvement in a legally-protected activity. The proofs can include a complaint filed with a certain state or federal agency such as the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission or any other complaints regarding harassment or discrimination
  • Proofs that your termination was a result of your involvement in the legally-protected activity. For instance, you were transferred or reprimanded after your employer came to know about your sexual harassment complaint
  • Your employer’s action impacted you severely. Termination, denial of a promotion, and negative performance review fall under the category of unwarranted actions.

Fraud

In some cases, an employer’s ways of firing an employee can be deemed as fraud. Typically, frauds are found in the hiring process or during the final stages of an employee’s association with the employer. To stake a claim for fraud, you are required to prove the following:

  • The employer made a false promise or representation
  • Someone in the administration or in charge knew about the misleading or false representation
  • The employer intended to deceive you
  • You relied on the promise or representation
  • You suffered due to the false representation

Proving a wrongful termination to be a fraud is difficult. It requires you to prove that the employer tried to act badly on intention. This requires you to have all the documentation regarding how, when, whom, and what means were used to make the false representations.

Whistle Blower Violation

Employees reporting or exposing employers involved in illegal or activities harmful to the public interest are protected under the whistle blower laws. Some states protect employees for reporting employers for breaking any laws or ordinances. In other states, the umbrella of protection only covers employees if they report their employees for breaking certain laws such as the environmental or labor laws.

Why Hire a Wrongful Termination Attorney?

Hiring a wrongful termination lawyer can benefit you in the following ways:

  • A wrongful termination attorney understands the variances in state laws. They can help you understand the grounds on which you can stake a strong claim.
  • Wrongful termination lawyers are well-versed with the complicated procedures of the court. They understand the procedures required to recover and present evidence. This is crucial to proving your wrongful termination claim in court.
  • In case your employer makes untrue claims that jeopardize your reputation, a wrongful termination lawyer can file a motion to stop them
  • A wrongful termination attorney can help you evaluate your claim and identify any other federal or state agency you can file a complaint with. They can also help you file a breach of contract or wrongful discharge lawsuit with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). This can be of great benefit for you as the agency is in charge of enforcing various laws for employment protection.
  • Wrongful termination attorneys will evaluate your financial loss or damages due to your firing. Leveraging their knowledge, you can hold your employer accountable for punitive damages and emotional distress. They can also help you obtain attorney fees if you win the case.