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.
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 no reason. But there are exceptions to the doctrine. There are instances where the firing of an employer can be deemed illegal.
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.
The following instances qualify as wrongful termination:
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.
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 them. 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 implied promises.
When deciding if an implied agreement existed, courts review the following:
If you feel 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:
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 the employee and the employer sign a valid contract.
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 reasons considered unjust or illegitimate by society.
Many states and federal laws recognize the following reasons for termination as the violation of public policy:
Other violations of the public policies are:
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.
Firing employees in retaliation to them participating in legally protected activities is considered wrongful termination. To prove you lost your job due to your employer’s retaliation, you are required to prove all of the following:
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 fraud claim, you are required to prove the following:
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.
Employees reporting or exposing employers involved in illegal or activities harmful to the public interest are protected under the whistleblower laws. Some states protect employees from 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 environmental or labor laws.
Hiring a wrongful termination lawyer can benefit you in the following ways: