Wrongful termination is the legal term for what happens when an employer fires an employee illegally. There is a difference between being fired unfairly and illegally, and if you’ve been terminated and are considering filing a lawsuit, it’s an important distinction. Though you may be hurt of offended by having been fired, most employers are considered “at will,” which means that they can be fired for any reason and without cause. Wrongful terminations are the exception to the rule. They are firings that are illegal.
Examples of wrongful firings include:
- When an employee is fired for having done something that is protected by law, such as filing a valid workers’ compensation claim, filing a whistleblower report, or filing a complaint against them with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
- When an employee is fired in a discriminatory way, such as because of their race, national origin, color, gender, pregnancy or childbirth, religion, age, disability, or sexual orientation.
- When an employer fabricates a reason for the termination.
- When an employee is fired as a result of their membership in a group such as a political party.
- When an employee is terminated because they took time off that is covered under the Family and Medical Leave Act
In addition to not being permitted to fire an employee for any of these reasons, employers are also not permitted under law to use any of these reasons as justification for pay cuts, poor work conditions or hours, demotion or harassment. They are also not permitted to terminate an employee in breach of an existing employment contract.
When you can prove that one or more of the reasons listed above was the explanation you were fired, you can file a wrongful termination lawsuit, seeking compensation for the damages that you’ve suffered. A successful wrongful termination lawsuit can result in you being compensated. The remedies available to you vary based upon the specifics of the case but can include being given your job back; having an injunction enacted against the employer to stop them from firing you; being compensated for any pay or benefits that you lost as a result of the termination; or getting the promotion, clearing of personnel files or increase in wages that were pertinent to your case.
If you believe that you’ve been wrongfully terminated, your best first step is to contact our experienced wrongful termination attorneys to see how we can help.