“I just got fired. What do I do now?”
“Do I have a case? I think I was fired unfairly.”
“What qualifies as wrongful termination?”
“Is it hard to prove wrongful termination?”
“How do I find a good employment lawyer?”
In this article, we will define “wrongful termination” and then briefly describe how to fight back against this illegal and unfair practice by employers.
What is Wrongful Termination?
What does it mean that a worker was fired unlawfully? This means that the individual was wrongfully terminated by their employer for an illegal reason, such as being in violation of state, local, and/or federal discrimination laws. Plain and simple, an employee cannot be fired on the basis of their race, ethnic background, gender, sexual orientation, religious beliefs, or disability. But keep in mind that there are other reasons that qualify as wrongful termination—these include getting fired in violation of written and oral employment agreements and getting fired in violation of labor laws. Please consult with an experienced employment lawyer for complete details.
Can I Sue for Workplace Retaliation?
Yes. It's also illegal to fire a worker because they made a legal complaint against their employer or acted as a whistleblower by revealing an employer's workplace misconduct. Firing an employee for exercising their legal rights is considered to be retaliation by the employer—and that's illegal.
When you contact an expert employment law firm (we'll cover more of this below), they'll help you determine if you have a strong case—but a good rule of thumb for figuring out if you've been wrongfully terminated is to ask yourself this simple question: Was I fired because of who I am? Although there are many other reasons that serve as the basis for wrongful termination suits, this simple question is a great starting point.
How Successful are Wrongful Termination Cases?
Very successful. In fact, wrongful termination suits have skyrocketed over the past twenty years, rising some 260%. More than 40% of these suits were against employers with less than 100 employees, and when these cases go to trial the employee wins more than 63% of the time. Many workers ask us: Is it worth it to sue your employer? Judging by the facts above the answer is a loud and resounding YES!
What Does "At-Will Employment" Mean?
You may have heard the term "at-will employment." And you might be surprised to learn that your employer can fire you at any time for any reason—and without notice. In fact, in California, and in most states, this is what “at will” means: your employer doesn't need a reason for firing you. But—and this is a gigantic BUT—"at-will employment" doesn't mean that your boss can fire you for an unlawful reason, one that violates the law as listed above.
What Can I Do If I Got Fired Unfairly?
Many workers who are fired or quit because of harassment don't realize that their rights have been violated by their employer. As you read above, wrongful termination can sometimes be difficult for the employee to determine. The decision requires experience and expertise—especially with so many legal changes going on. Don't assume that you're not eligible for consideration. An expert employment lawyer may find that your employer did not have a legal or legitimate reason for firing you.
Getting Fired Is Painful
There's no doubt that getting fired can be very painful. Experts say that losing a job and being unemployed for a long period of time can create not only financial trauma but psychological trauma as well. Research has found that losing your job can be very damaging to your mental and physical health—especially when you've been wrongfully and illegally fired. That's why winning a wrongful termination lawsuit can offer you satisfaction and resolution.
In California and across the country, laws and court cases have become very protective of employees' rights. That's why it's so important to partner with experienced employment lawyers—experts who aren't afraid to fight for your rights.
Act Quickly! (You Can Fight Wrongful Termination)
Every year, approximately two million "at will" U.S. workers get fired or laid off—many, like the American Civil Liberties Union, believe that almost half of these fired workers get their pink slip either unlawfully of unfairly. But knowledge is power and employees are increasingly understanding wrongful termination. Employees have strong rights in the workplace as well as the freedom to speak up. There is a growing movement of employees that are pushing back on employers. Any employee who suspects they were wrongfully terminated—AND ACTS QUICKLY—has the advantage. In fact "statutes of limitation" apply to these cases, restricting when claims can be brought against employers.
If you believe you were fired illegally—or even if you're not sure and need legal advice— take action today and contact us—the experts at Lawyers for Employee & Consumer Rights.