When Does Termination Become Wrongful or Illegal?

Being fired or dismissed from work is an unfortunate experience and many employees regard it as an “unfair” act of an employer. Does this automatically entitle one to a wrongful termination claim? When does termination become wrongful or illegal?

Employment wrongful termination occurs when an employee or worker is fired from a company for illegal or “unethical reasons”. So no matter how an employee looks at how “unfairly” he has been discharged, a termination becomes wrongful or illegal, for instance, if a violation against a federal law or statute has been made.

However, other acts of an employer may also give rise to wrongful termination. A dismissed employee may file a wrongful termination claim under the following situations:

  • When termination is based on discrimination involving issues of age, race, gender, religion, and disability
  • When an employee is fired in retaliation to whistle blowing actions, worker’s compensation claim or for asserting his legal rights
  • When one’s termination violates the normal firing procedures as stated in company handbooks, manual or in employment contract
  • When an employer and other employees use defamation of character as reason for the dismissal of an employee
  • When the dismissal is in violation of public policy in regards to local, state and federal laws and statutes
  • Violation of implied contract laws
  • When an employee is fired based on any negligent or undesirable action that he was not responsible for in any manner
  • Through constructive discharge such as making working conditions intolerable for the worker

Filing a Wrongful Termination Claim

In consideration of the strict statute of limitation in a wrongful termination case, the claim must be initiated by a discharged employee right after his termination. The claim must be submitted, with all pertinent documents, to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) with assistance from an employment lawyer.

The following documents are vital to one’s case and must be presented to an employment lawyer to pursue the claim:

  1. Employment contract, whether written or implied
  2. Company handbook and manuals
  3. Company memoranda and other related communication
  4. Documents related to past job performance
  5. Documentary evidence related to one’s termination
  6. Deposition statements of potential witnesses

Generally, the statute of limitation for the filing of claim is 180 days from the date of termination or 300 days from violations which are deemed part of federal and state civil rights violation as basis of one’s wrongful termination.

Typically, wrongful termination claims are filed for two main reasons:

  • To be reinstated to past occupational position without any retaliatory action for filing upheld claims
  • To seek compensatory and punitive damages for liable actions done by the employer

In most cases, liability in a wrongful discrimination claim can be established and proven by looking into possible violations made by an employer against existing federal and state laws, which a victim may sometimes find difficult to do for lack of legal knowledge.

However, with the assistance of an employment lawyer, one may find justification for his claim and recover the rightful compensation that he deserves.


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