Being fired is one of the most painful, embarrassing experiences an employee can go through. Even if you hate your job, you want to leave it on your own terms rather than having somebody tell you that your service is no longer valued. But there are different reasons for losing a job, and some are actually illegal. If you suspect that your job loss is a case of wrongful termination, then an attorney will be one of your important resources.
First, let’s identify what wrongful termination is.
Wrongful termination is an umbrella term that encompasses any firing that is affected for illegal reasons. These illegal reasons include
- Discrimination, including firing somebody because of their gender, sexual orientation, race, national origin, religion, disability, age or any other protected class.
- Retaliation, most particularly based on the employee having reported or complained about illegal behavior, harassment, workplace safety concerns, discrimination, payroll or benefit violations.
- Firing somebody in violation of public policy such as for exercising a legal right or refusing to commit an illegal act. Violation of public policy also includes whistleblowing.
- Breach of contract, which applies to employees who were not hired as at-will employees but who instead had signed employment agreements with specific terms regarding the conditions under which an employee’s contract could be broken.
In some instances, it is obvious when your termination falls into one of these categories.
If you have recently revealed that you are pregnant, or have overheard a worker refer to your race or nationality in a disparaging way prior to your losing your job — if you have lost your ability to do your job in the way that you previously did as a result of a disability and have asked for an accommodation and were then fired — then it seems obvious that you have been let go as a result of discrimination. If you refused to comply with an illegal order and were laid off shortly thereafter, there is a good chance that you have been terminated in violation of public policy. If you have complained about discriminatory practices and shortly thereafter lost your job, it is worth calling an attorney to determine whether your termination is a result of retaliation.
Wrongful termination feels obvious when it happens to you, but the area of employment law can be very complicated. If you believe that you have been a victim of wrongful termination, it’s time to talk to an attorney. Contact us today so that we can discuss your particular situation.