If your employer terminated you or laid you off indefinitely, you might have legal grounds to file a wrongful termination claim. Although most employment relationships are considered at will, your employer can violate a law that can lead to the filing of a wrongful termination lawsuit.
At-will employment means either you or your employer can end the employment relationship at any time, without having to provide a reason. Working with an employment attorney who specializes in wrongful termination cases can help you gather and organize the evidence you need to file a persuasive claim.
When Should You Speak with a Wrongful Termination Lawyer?
You have a limited amount of time to take legal action against your employer for committing an act of wrongful termination. Every state has established a deadline for the filing of a civil lawsuit that seeks monetary damages for wrongful termination. Although most states provide plaintiffs with considerable time to file a civil lawsuit, you should take legal action as quickly as possible after your employer wrongfully terminated you.
When is a Firing Illegal?
Three types of illegal acts form the legal foundation for filing a civil lawsuit for wrongful termination.
Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 makes it unlawful for employers to discriminate based on several factors, such as gender, religion, and sexual orientation. Employment discrimination comes in many forms, including not paying the same salary to a worker who has the same professional credentials as another worker. Discrimination in the workplace also plays a role in wrongful termination cases.
The Whistleblower Protection Act of 1989 protects “any disclosure of information” by any federal government employee who “reasonably believes evidences an activity constituting a violation of law, rules, or regulations, or mismanagement, gross waste of funds, abuse of authority or a substantial and specific danger to public health and safety.” Retaliation also is an unlawful act committed by private-sector employers. Your employer cannot fire you because you reported a workplace violation of state or federal law.
Employers that terminate an employee in a direct violation of the terms of an employment contract have committed an act of wrongful termination. Before you sign an employment contract, ask an employment attorney to review it to determine whether the employer has added fine print in the contract that makes it easier to fire you for any reason.
What Can a Wrongful Termination Lawyer Do?
Hiring a wrongful termination lawyer is a good idea for several reasons. Your attorney can help you collect and organize evidence, which in most wrongful termination cases involves securing copies of documents such as performance reviews and a description of recent promotions.
Witness accounts of wrongful termination are especially helpful for cases of discrimination in the workplace. Your lawyer may use witness statements to boost the strength of the physical evidence. Working with a wrongful termination attorney may ensure you file the proper documents before the expiration of the statute of limitations.
One of the greatest benefits of retaining legal counsel is to negotiate a settlement with your former employer. Negotiating a favorable settlement helps you avoid a costly and time-consuming trial.
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