Wrongful Termination?

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If you have been fired, and wonder whether or not you can fight back and sue your company, there are many things to consider before even seeking legal aid on the matter. I wish to look at a few of those items that may help you know whether it is worth pursuing or not.


If you are under contract with your company, and you get let go, there are probably plenty of rules in the contract explaining when, how and why your employer could let you go before the contracts end; be sure you read those thoroughly. If you can identify that in fact your employer has violated the terms of your contract, then you may wish to pursue legal action. If the contract states there has to be a cause for firing you, and you have been fired without a cause, or if the contract specified a firing procedure that was not followed, then that breach may be probable cause for legal action.


If you were a union or civil service worker, they too have contracts that have to be followed. Be sure you contact your union representative, or read your civil service contract closely for the stipulations. For civil service jobs, they usually require a ten day notice before they can terminate you, and there has to be a reason or cause for termination. Examples of such causes include incompatible public service, failure of good behavior, willful disobedience of rules or departmental orders, negligence of duty, and insubordination. You may appeal your termination within twenty days of the time you receive notice.


If you have been terminated from a position where there was no contract in force, then you are considered an employee-at-will, meaning you can quit your position at any time and for any reason. It likewise provides the ability for your employer to fire you at any time and for any reason. Even so, there are still limitations as to what you may be fired over.


1) Discriminatory reasons: You cannot be terminated for discriminatory reasons, such as age, race, sex, religion, national origin or disability. If this is the reasoning, in many states you have 180 days after your employer’s actions to file a complaint report with the State Civil Rights Commission. After which you should file a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, which should be usually done either within 300 days of the employer’s action, or 30 days after the State claim has been terminated (whichever comes first).


2) Violating public policy: Your employer cannot fire you for reasons such as being a “whistleblower” if a law has been violated, or for filing for worker’s compensation, or even if you refuse to take part in illegal activities at work. If these types of reasons are involved, then legal action might be something to consider.


3) Implied contracts: This is a tougher issue to prove, but an implied contract can be created when policies set forth in an employee manual or handbook lean that way. Nothing is automatic with this, and so if you feel it may be the case, seek legal advice before taking any legal action.


While many people are quick to threaten to sue when being fired (which is understandable because of the emotional turmoil involved) it is also best to know your rights and protection before seeking legal aid. Have you had any experience or success with taking action against a former employer?


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  • Bernita T
    Bernita T
    My daughter was terminated by an employer who does not utilize an accountant, but instead issues hand written personal checks, that take more than 15 minutes to cash, and check stubs that contain federal withholding, FICA, Social Security information that's written on what appears to be scratch paper.  When my daughter was terminated, her employer still owes her $500, to wit, hasn't been paid.  What would be her course of action?
  • michael r
    michael r
    This is very helpful. However i was terminated cause one of the employees took a picture of me where i had fell asleep at my desk. I was on blood pressure medication, and had informed my boss that it made me sleepy. At the time i had fell asleep i didnt realize i was asleep.  Just your thoughts on that situation.
  • Jeffrey McCormack
    Jeffrey McCormack
    Jill, thanks for reading and commenting. Unfortunately, I am unable to give direct advice aside from what was provided within the article. There is a second part to this article in case you have not read it. If after reading both pieces, you feel your situation is worth pursuing, then it would probably be best for you to contact a local group for legal advice on if you actually have a case or not.
  • Jill M
    Jill M
    I was fired with no notice as a contractural employee at a psychological firm in chicago. I believe the terms of my contract were breached. Can I file with eeoc or dhs?The contract first states that I was at at-will employee, but then in direct conflict to that it also states that with cause I am to be given 30 days notice and then goes on to state either employer or employee can give 90 days notice to the other for any reason????
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