The only thing worse than losing your job is losing your job for no reason at all or for an unjust reason. Thankfully, there are employment laws that may allow workers to obtain redress in the event of an unlawful firing. If you have suffered wrongful termination, it's important to contact a local Atlanta employment lawyer for a consultation to determine whether a lawsuit is appropriate. It's also crucial to follow these four steps if you are considering a lawsuit:
Step #1: Inquire About the Reasons for Discharge
If you don't know why you've been fired from your job, then it's best to simply ask. Your employer's answer may be revealing. In fact, the answer the employer gives you may be the determining factor in your decision to file a wrongful termination lawsuit. Pay careful attention to what he or she says. Write down the gist of the conversation. Request that your employer put his reasons for terminating you into writing as soon as possible. Finally, consider recording the conversation, but only if you are certain that doing so does not violate any privacy laws.
Step #2: Contact a Wrongful Termination Lawyer
If you feel you may have been fired unjustly, it's important to consult with an experienced employment attorney immediately. The law can be complex. Whether you feel you have an airtight case or no case at all, there are numerous mitigating factors that may hurt or help your chances of obtaining compensation. To determine if you have grounds for a lawsuit, call an attorney who is knowledgeable about what constitutes a wrongful termination.
Step #3: Understand Basic Wrongful Termination Statutes
Although labor laws vary from state to state, almost all states follow what is called an at-will employment policy. Essentially, the law states that an employer has the right to fire an employee at any time and for any reason without suffering legal repercussions, but there are exceptions.
You may have a legitimate case against your employer if you were fired for:
- Complaining about a protected issue.
- Refusing to violate the law, commit perjury, or discriminate.
- Discriminatory reasons.
Step #4: Obtain the Proper Evidence/Documentation
To successfully pursue a wrongful termination lawsuit, you must first prove that your employer fired you for an illegal reason. That means you'll need concrete evidence. Secure any and all correspondence between you and your employer, including emails, written letters, text messages, etc. Document any and all performance reviews. Ask for access to your personnel file, although your employer is not obligated to grant you access and it may require a subpoena from a lawyer.
Consider starting a journal to document the problems as they arise. Include names and contact information of all relevant parties. If a supervisor or manager commented on your good performance, write the conversation down immediately. Again, only record conversations if you're certain that doing so doesn't violate any privacy laws.
There are many other things to consider when pursuing a wrongful termination lawsuit, but these four steps should put you on the right path. If you need assistance evaluating your legal options, call the experienced lawyers at Barrett & Farahany, LLP for a free consultation at (404) 238-7299.