If you have recently lost your job, you may be wondering if you have a wrongful termination case. Alabama and Georgia are “at-will” states, which means that, in general, employers have the right to fire an employee at any time and for any reason. Most employers require new employees to sign paperwork that states that their employment is at will.
This doesn’t mean that there aren’t illegal reasons for your firing. If you believe you have been wrongfully terminated or fired for an illegal reason, you may be able to file a legal claim against your ex-employer. These types of cases can be complicated, and there are specific procedures you must follow to bring the claim to a successful conclusion. If you are considering this course of action, you will need strong legal counsel by your side advocating forcefully for your rights and interests.
The wrongful discrimination attorneys of Barrett & Farahany are dedicated to fighting against all types of civil rights violations. We have established a successful track record with these types of cases. With an in-depth knowledge of federal and state employment and civil rights laws, we put our extensive experience to work to thoroughly examine the specifics of each case. We will explore every potential legal avenue toward obtaining full relief on your behalf.
Although employers usually have the right to terminate an employee at will, there are some exceptions to this rule. For one thing, the reason for termination must fall within the guidelines of federal employment laws. Various federal laws protect workers from unlawful dismissals based on membership in a protected class. There are also laws against retaliatory termination after an employee asserts their rights, reports misconduct, or participates in an investigation.
Federal law prohibits most employers from terminating employees based on any of the following protected classes:
Age (for employees least 40 years old)
An employer cannot terminate you for being a member of any of these protected classes, and if you can prove that they did, they would be in violation of the law. Here are some possible examples of wrongful termination based on discrimination:
An employer is not allowed to fire an employee after the employee filed a claim for harassment or discrimination, or because an employee reported workplace misconduct, an unsafe work environment, or is participating in an investigation. These circumstances would all be considered retaliation. Employers are also prohibited from terminating or taking other negative actions against employees who file a workers’ compensation claim.
Closely related to retaliation is being terminated for reporting illegal activities to government authorities. Employers are prohibited from terminating an employee who reports violations of law to the government under the Whistleblower Protection Act. Employers are also not allowed to create a hostile work environment for employees who become government whistleblowers.
Under federal and state laws, employees have the right to take time off for certain civic duties and personal obligations. These include:
Federal law allows employees to take up to five years of leave to serve in the military and gives them the right to return to their jobs following leave. Alabama extends this law to cover employees called to active state duty for at least 30 days.
If you are a full-time employee, you are entitled to your standard pay while you are out for jury duty.
Employees are allowed to take up to one hour of unpaid time off to vote unless they already have at least two hours off after the polls open in the morning or at least one hour off before the polls close in the evening.
Employees in Georgia and Alabama are covered by the federal Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA). Under the FMLA, employers with at least 50 employees are required to provide their employees with up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave to care for a newborn or adopted child, deal with a serious health concern, or care for a close family member with a serious health concern.
While most employees are at will, some employees are not. For example, if you signed a written contract before you started working that states that your employment is for a set or indefinite period of time and that you could only be terminated for certain reasons (such as gross negligence or misconduct), being fired before the expiration of the contract for any other reason could constitute wrongful termination. A written contract may also exist as part of a union-negotiated collective bargaining agreement, or it could be outlined in an employee handbook.
Even if the contract is not in writing, you still may have been wrongfully terminated if the employer gave you a verbal or implied promise of a certain length of employment. For example, maybe your employer told you when you were hired that your tenure would be indefinite as long as you performed up to certain standards. However, verbal and implied contracts are more difficult to prove, so you will most likely need the testimony of coworkers and other evidence to help corroborate your claim.
Losing your job can leave you wondering how you’ll provide for yourself and your family. You shouldn’t be left to deal with this alone if your termination violated state or federal laws. If you believe you have been wrongfully terminated from your job, you have legal rights and remedies that may be available to you. These could include back pay, forward pay, reinstatement, compensatory damages, punitive damages, and legal fees.
At Barrett & Farahany, our wrongful termination attorneys have years of experience fighting for the rights of employees in Alabama and Georgia. Contact us today to learn more about how we can help.
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