What Constitutes Wrongful Termination?

wrongful terminationIf you wake up, get to work and suddenly find yourself getting fired, you must be wondering what happened to warrant such action. As an employee, you are protected by federal and state laws from being unduly fired. Being fired for reasons that are illegal is called wrongful termination or wrongful dismissal.

According to federal laws, if you can prove that you were fired from your job because of the reasons listed below, then you should immediately call a lawyer to file a claim for wrongful termination in the proper forum.

  1. Discrimination – Civil rights Act of 1963 protects employees from discrimination in the workplace, therefore, if you are being fired from your job due to your nationality, race, gender, age, or religion then that is considered illegal.
  2. Retaliation – People often engage in activities that sometimes are not what their employers want. But that is not a reason to fire an employee because that is considered retaliation and that is illegal. For example, after your employer found out you filed a reasonable charge against your employer like sexual assault or the likes, you were reprimanded and soon thereafter, you were fired. This is an example of retaliation, an illegal reason for firing.
  3. Employees refusal to perform an illegal act – Employers may sometimes coerce an employee to perform an illegal task like “fixing the books” to curb tax payments. These kinds of task are illegal and are therefore not required for employees to do. If you refuse and gets fired for it, then that is an illegal termination.
  4. Not following company procedure in termination of employees – Often times, employees are informed before hand of the standard operating procedures in the company, including the termination of employment. If the termination of your employment does not follow this standard procedure, then that can also be illegal, therefore a wrongful termination.

It can be difficult to prove that the reason for your termination is indeed illegal but if you have a good lawyer by your side, you have a good chance of winning your case especially if you have documentation that can prove that your competence in your job.

If your case is not under any of the reasons listed above, it is not the end. Those are the public policy violations. There are other circumstances that are used for wrongful termination especially for employees “at will”. These employees were hired and can be fired anytime for any reason other than that under public policy. But even employees at can file a wrongful termination claim if:

  1. Written commitment – This can be in a form of a contract or letter that proves that your employer provided you a guarantee of your job or mentions that a valid reason must be present before he/she can fire you. This can be an evidence that you are indeed not an at will employee and can sue if you were fired for no reason.
  2. Implied guarantee – This can be more difficult to prove since employers do not make a habit of promising employees anything. But if you can prove that your employer said or acted that an employment for a certain amount of time was in the future for you, then a case can be filed.

There are no set laws of what constitutes a wrongful termination. Rather, a combination of federal and state laws and precedent cases of what was deemed a wrongful termination are what is used as bases in building a case for a wrongful termination case. So, if you feel that your termination has been illegal, contacting a lawyer for consultation is the best next step to take.

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