Losing your job can have far-reaching implications for your life that can be difficult to overcome with ease or as quickly as you might like. When an employer terminates you from a job, and that termination was unlawful, your employer denied you your ability to continue earning and support your family based upon an unlawful cause, and you may be entitled to compensation. Loss of employment impairs present obligations while also limiting future earnings and can also cause mental anguish given the related stress.
Following is a consideration of wrongful termination so that you know whether you might have a case. If your situation sounds familiar, reach out to a lawyer to explore the strength of your case and the size of your prospective settlement.
Discrimination Is a Common Reason for Wrongful Termination
If an employer terminates you based discrimination in any form, whether based upon your race, gender, disability, or religion, they have wrongfully terminated you. In such a situation, it can be difficult to clearly determine that it is due to one of these factors that you were, in fact, terminated.
Employers or supervisors may provide alternative reasons for your termination; reasons meant to mask over the true reason given that it might be discriminatory. Firing employees based upon a discriminatory reason opens employers to lawsuits, and some savvy managers understand this and do their best to mitigate the risk by providing other reasons.
Should you have been fired for reasons outside of your work performance, or if the reasons do not make sense, you may have experienced discrimination, and thus a wrongful termination. An attorney can help you understand how the law applies to your unique facts and circumstances.
FMLA Protects Medical Leave, and Your Employer Cannot Terminate You During Protected Leave
Under the Family and Medical Leave Act, as explained by the Department of Labor, employees who work for covered organizations are entitled to take a 12-week leave from work when a qualifying condition has occurred. The qualifying conditions are, broadly speaking, family, health, and bonding with a new child. The family and health aspect means you must attend to a personal health emergency or one for a family member.
The new child qualification means your family has had a newborn, adopted a child, or is within the first year of placement with a foster child. During the 12 weeks, your employer must continue to provide your group health insurance, and after the 12 weeks, your employer must give you your job back.
If you have lost your job for applying for your rightful FMLA leave, or you have been denied your health benefits during or your job after, you may have a case. Reaching out to an attorney to discuss the facts of your case will help you understand what claims you might have and the settlement you might deserve.
Retaliation Is a Common Form of Unlawful Termination
According to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the EEOC, retaliation is the most frequently alleged basis of discrimination that employees report within the federal sector and the most common finding of discrimination in federal sector cases.
The law prohibits employers from punishing job applicants or employees by asserting their rights to be free of workplace discrimination, including harassment. Asserting an EEO right is described as a “protected activity” under the EEO, and employers cannot retaliate against employees for asserting their rights.
Whether you have filed a complaint yourself or participated in an investigation concerning someone else’s complaint, an employer cannot rightfully fire you based on this alone. The law empowers employees to participate honestly in workplace investigations.
Firing an employee because they were honest concerning the harassment of a supervisor would likely lead to ongoing harassment, given the lack of punishment. An employer is also liable if they facilitate or fail to act against the harassing behavior of their employees.
An Employer Cannot Fire You for Protecting Yourself or Others from Discrimination or Harassment
The law prohibits employers from retaliating against employees or applicants for asserting their rights through engaging in protected activities. Participating as a filer or witness in an EEO charge, complaint, investigation, or lawsuit cannot be a viable reason for termination.
Answering questions within an employer investigation of harassment, communicating to a supervisor or manager about employment discrimination or harassment, resisting sexual advances, or protecting others from them are all unlawful reasons for termination.
If your employed fired you for exercising your rights against discrimination in the workplace or tried to protect others, your termination might not have been lawful. To recognize whether or not you have a case and the size of any compensation you might deserve, speaking with an attorney can help.
How do I know if my termination was wrongful or illegal?
Generally, an employer cannot terminate you for asserting your protected rights in the workplace, such as filing complaints about harassment or trying to prevent a coworker from discriminatory behavior.
Can I be terminated if I have to leave work for a family health emergency?
If you have exercised your FMLA leave rights with a covered employee and your employer terminated you for applying, your termination was wrongful.
How do I know if my termination was due to retaliation?
While the unique facts of your situation will determine your case, frequently, if an employer fires an employee after they exercised a protected right like filing a complaint or honestly answering questions in an investigation, the termination was wrongful.
How much can I recover for a case of wrongful termination?
If you have experienced wrongful termination, you may be entitled to compensatory damages like lost earnings and potentially punitive damages.
Who do I file my wrongful termination lawsuit with?
If you are looking to recover damages or compensation for your wrongful termination case, the jurisdiction for the case will vary depending upon the facts and circumstances of your case, and an attorney can help advise you on your options.