If you feel that you may have been a victim of wrongful termination, you’re not alone. Wrongful dismissal from a place of employment is one of the most common labor disputes there is.
No matter the circumstances, many of us may feel that we were “wrongfully” fired or let go from our jobs, but the legal definition of wrongful termination requires a little bit more evidence than hard feelings.
Most employment contracts in the United States are made “at will,” meaning that employees may be dismissed at any time and for any reason — well, almost any reason.
There are a few very important exceptions to the “at will” employment contract, and if you feel you were fired for one of these reasons, you may be subject to damages compensation or a severance package from your employer.
- Discrimination.> No employee can be fired simply because of their gender, race, nationality, religious beliefs, or age. Some states also have discrimination protections based on gender identity and sexual orientation.
- Retaliation. An employer cannot fire you to “get back” at you because you are, for example, involved in a discrimination case against them or have served as a whistleblower for some form of suspicious activity.
- Refusal to Commit Illegal Activity. If you were released because of a refusal to comply with orders that would have required you to do something against the law, you may have a case for wrongful termination.
- Breach of Contract. Some contract agreements, particularly those involved with labor unions, involve a mandatory procedure before termination. Your employer must follow these procedures, or the dismissal is considered wrongful.
Was your firing illegal? If so, speak with an employment lawyer or wrongful termination attorney about your case.
Wrongful termination cases aren’t always easy. There are, however, at least 20 different grounds to make a strong case as a wrongfully terminated employee.
You most likely cannot make a case for wrongful dismissal if, for example, you were a truck driver involved in a crash — which happened 333,000 times in 2012. Hiring a lawyer for your case is not a decision to be taken lightly; civil lawsuits cost the economy $239 billion every year.
However, it never hurts to talk. Many lawyers will offer you a free consultation to hear out your situation and determine if you have a strong case for wrongful termination.