If you or someone you know has either been fired or laid off from a job, chances are you’re likely wondering whether or not you can take any legal action against your employer. However, many people don’t because they are considered to be “at-will” employees, meaning that not only can they quit at any time, but they can also be fired at any time as well, which isn’t illegal. This means that if you’re fired due to an overall poor performance or constant attendance issues, you can legally be fired over these matters and legally cannot do anything about it.
However, not every firing is legal. “At-will” employees can also be fired for reasons that are discriminatory in nature, as well as part of retaliation for reporting some form of harassment or exercising any one of their legal rights. In this kind of situation, an individual who has been fired should consider meeting with an employment attorney to discuss their options.
What Exactly is Wrongful Termination?
*Discrimination: No employee can be fired from their job due to factors such as their race, religion, gender, national origin, age, disability, or genetic information. Furthermore, there are also numerous state and local laws that prevent individuals from being fired due to factors such as marital status, sexual orientation, and gender identity as well.
*Retaliation. An employer is forbidden from firing an employee if the employee issues a complaint regarding illegal behavior, such as harassment, discrimination, unsafe working conditions, etc.
*Violating Public Policy. Many state laws prevent employees from being fired for reasons that other people would see as being morally wrong, such as the employee exercising any of their legal rights, refusing to commit any illegal act, or reporting any wrongdoing on behalf of their employer.
*Breach of Contract: Not every employee is considered to be “at-will.” For instance, if someone has a contract stating that they can only be fired for certain reasons, then the employee may only be fired for those reasons. If the employee is fired for any other reason, then they will likely have a claim for breach of contract.
When Should You Consider Talking to a Lawyer?
If you suspect that you have become the victim of wrongful termination by your employer, then you may want to consider speaking to an employment lawyer as soon as possible. They will go over all of the facts with you and, from there, determine whether or not you have a legitimate legal claim. If so, your lawyer will help you go over everything that can be done to help you assert all of your rights, such as the following:
*Negotiating a severance package
*Demanding a settlement
*Filing administrative charges/lawsuit against the employer
You should also consider talking to a lawyer if you are ever asked to sign a waiver of release claims, which states that you will give up all rights to sue your employer. There is a vast majority of businesses that require this type of request from their employees before they can qualify for any severance package, and once this particular release is signed, it then becomes tough to undo it. This is especially the case if you end up finding out that you do have a valid legal claim against your employer. Before signing this kind of form, take a moment to determine exactly which specific claims you’ll be giving up, as well as exactly what they’re worth.
The following are some basic situations that should be useful in convincing you to obtain legal assistance:
*Any actions or statements suggesting that you were fired from your job for a discriminatory reason.
*You revealed that you have a characteristic that is protected by law (disability, pregnancy, etc.)
*You recently filed a complaint regarding harassment and discrimination.
*You recently complained of other wrongdoing in your place of employment, such as safety hazards.
*You exercised one of your legal rights, such as taking advantage of the Family Medical Leave Act or your legal right to vote in an election.
*Your firing recently changed the overall demographics of your place of employment (you are the only male or female, the only manager of a particular color, etc.)
*You are shy of vesting or receiving particular benefits at your place of employment.
*You are in possession of a contract that limits the employer’s right to fire you.
These situations could indicate that your firing may or may not have been illegal. Only a qualified employment attorney like Tim Louis Law will be able to help you determine this for sure and determine how to proceed further. You can check them out at timlouislaw.com