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Wrongful Termination: Do I have a Case?
A wrongful termination is a termination that occurs with no legitimate or valid reason. Although it's hard to believe, terminations due to age discrimination, racial discrimination, and other forms of illegal terminations happen all the time. There are laws which protect employees from wrongful termination by employers and based on these laws, many victims of wrongful termination build cases against employers. If you feel that you've been wrongfully terminated, you may also have a case for compensatory damages. Here is some important information regarding wrongful terminations.
Many employers claim to have valid reasons to fire employees, especially if they have documented cases where the employee received disciplinary action. Most of these documents have the signature of the employee, confirming that he or she engaged in some sort of unacceptable behavior and accepts the disciplinary action.
If you have been terminated and there are no accounts of disciplinary action taken by your employer, you may have a case for wrongful termination. An employer cannot claim that you were a ‘problem employee,’ a risk to the company’s assets or other employees if there was never any disciplinary action – unless of course, the termination centered on one incident that was grounds for immediate termination.
Many wrongful termination suits involve discrimination of some kind, including but not limited to:
- Discrimination based on the employee’s religious preference.
- Discrimination based on the employee’s marital status or whether or not he or she has or plans to have children.
- Discrimination based on the employee’s financial status; unless his or her financial status is interfering with the quality of work they perform.
- Discrimination based on the employee’s race.
- Discrimination based on the employee’s sexual orientation.
If you have been asked questions at work by your employer or a direct supervisor which are related to the above topic – you may have the basis for a discrimination case. This is especially true if you were fired recently after the questions were asked, with no legal or valid cause to be terminated.
Many states adhere to ‘at will’ statutes, meaning that a company must give no reason for termination. The company has the right to fire an individual to cut costs, because the individual was not working up to standard, because there is a change in the way the company is heading or what the company is focused on or other reasons. The only way an employee may have a suit against their employer in an ‘at will’ situation is if the employee was discriminated against. Many variables go into determining whether an individual has a case in this situation. For instance, if the employee stated that he or she was Jewish and then they were fired for ‘employee reduction,’ a judge may look into how many other employees were fired at the same time.
Your own personal state laws will play a big part in whether or not you have a case. It’s important to familiarize yourself with those state laws if you think you have a wrongful termination case. The best course of action is to consult with an attorney, as they will be able to tell you if the details of you situation qualify as a wrongful termination suit.
- If you feel you have been wrongfully terminated, consult with an employment lawyer to discuss your case and find out your options.