It’s considered wrongful termination when an employee is unlawfully dismissed from their job. In the United States, most employees fall under the “at-will” category, granting both the employee and employer the freedom to terminate employment at will, provided it’s not for illegal reasons.
However, certain laws have been put in place to safeguard employee rights. For example, employers cannot terminate employees as retaliation for filing complaints or grievances. They cannot discriminate against employees based on protected classes, including age, race, gender, and more. It’s also unlawful to fire employees attempting to organize unions or discourage workers from seeking workers’ compensation benefits.
It’s important to remember that laws vary by state. If you believe you’ve been unlawfully dismissed, consult a lawyer immediately to assess the potential for a wrongful termination lawsuit.
Understand Your Employee Rights
In most states in the U.S., employment is “at-will”. This means that employers can terminate employees for various reasons. However, some states, like Georgia, have labor laws that include provisions against wrongful termination, preventing employers from firing employees for unlawful reasons.
When an employee is wrongfully terminated, they have the right to file a wrongful termination lawsuit with the help of an employment lawyer.
Most cases revolve around allegations of discrimination. To succeed in such cases, employees must provide evidence that their termination was based on their membership in a protected class and not on any legitimate grounds.
Gather Evidence to Fortify Your Wrongful Termination Lawsuit
Gathering compelling evidence is essential in these cases. Timing plays a pivotal role here. For instance, if your employer dismissed you shortly after you filed a workers’ compensation claim, it may indicate retaliatory intent.
Tangible proof like emails, text messages, or internal memos hinting at such motives can be invaluable. Testimonies from colleagues who can vouch for your performance or recount discriminatory comments made by supervisors can further support your case.
If your manager’s behavior changed abruptly after your claim, it suggests wrongful termination. Vague reasons for dismissal, such as refusal to explain or inconsistent explanations, often point towards wrongful termination. A seasoned attorney can help you understand this aspect better.
Consult a Wrongful Termination Lawyer
People can sometimes decide to initiate a wrongful termination lawsuit due to either the inability of a regulatory agency to reach a settlement or to pursue immediate legal action. Your wrongful termination attorney will guide you through the intricacies of commencing such a lawsuit and provide insights into the processes involved.
They will meticulously evaluate the specifics of your case, determining its strengths and weaknesses. Further, they’ll counsel you on exploring settlement options with your former employer, as this may offer a chance to move forward post-termination. However, it’s essential to understand that settling means forfeiting the option to sue your employer based on the same grounds in the future.
File a Complaint with HR
Initiating contact with your employer’s Human Resources department is a crucial step to protect your rights and seek resolution. To prepare for this crucial meeting, gather all relevant evidence, such as employment contracts, emails, and performance reviews. Clearly outline your concerns and the reasons you believe the termination was wrongful. Consider consulting a wrongful termination lawyer for guidance.
During the meeting, maintain professionalism and respect, focusing on the facts and avoiding emotional outbursts. A calm and composed demeanor will strengthen your case and increase the chances of a fair resolution.
Explore Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR)
The majority of wrongful termination claims tend to reach settlements out of court, sparing both parties the ordeal of a trial. In such cases, the aggrieved party can opt for mediation or arbitration as alternatives to a courtroom battle.
Some courts may mandate attempting mediation before scheduling a trial. Mediation involves a neutral third party assisting in reaching a compromise. On the other hand, arbitration streamlines the trial process, simplifying discovery rules and procedures while offering an efficient resolution to wrongful termination disputes. An experienced wrongful termination attorney can guide you through these options.
File a Complaint with a Government Agency
If you believe you’ve experienced wrongful termination, consider filing a claim with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). This federal agency is responsible for enforcing laws on workplace discrimination and retaliation.
Upon receiving your complaint, the EEOC will launch an investigation into your allegations. If they find that your termination was unlawful, you have options to address it. This includes the right to seek resolution through settlement or initiating a lawsuit.
Typically, you can’t file such a lawsuit independently unless you can prove the inadequacy of the EEOC’s investigation. A skilled lawyer can guide you through this process effectively.
Consider Going to Trial
In case the parties involved cannot resolve the wrongful termination dispute through mediation or arbitration, the matter will proceed to trial. Here, both sides will present evidence and witnesses to support their respective claims. An attorney can be of immense help at this juncture. Ultimately, a judge or jury will render the final verdict in the case.
Reach Out to Our Strong-Willed Wrongful Termination Attorneys Today
Navigating the intricacies of wrongful termination can be daunting for individuals unsure of their claim’s validity. A skilled wrongful termination lawyer can consider your unique circumstances and assess your case comprehensively. They possess significant knowledge in federal, state, and local regulations, which can be vital in pursuing a successful lawsuit.
Barrett & Farahany has achieved a national reputation of success for providing exceptional legal and consulting services. Our team of dedicated and motivated employment lawyers and staff are ready to push the limits of the law to improve life for all employees.