If you’ve recently been fired from a job, odds are your stress level has peaked and your emotions are a little raw. If you think you were let go for unfair reasons you may be considering a wrongful dismissal lawsuit. Don’t let your emotions lead you into a rash lawsuit; instead, ask yourself the following questions to decide whether you should fight your wrongful termination or move on.
Was it Really Wrongful Dismissal?
Whether or not you were wrongfully dismissed depends on a number of things, including where you live. There are many states in the United States where employment is “at-will,” meaning an employment can be terminated without notice for any reason or no reason at all. There are a few specific exceptions where the firing of an at-will employee would still constitute wrongful dismissal; the most common exceptions are described below.
It is illegal to fire someone based on their race, sex, age, or nationality. Some states have enacted anti-discrimination laws regarding sexual orientation, but they are not universal. It is usually illegal for an employer to fire someone for taking a leave for valid family or medical reasons or to terminate employment as retaliation for reporting illegal activities to authorities.
In most states it is illegal to fire someone based on their refusal to do something illegal or lie under oath. In more general terms, you cannot be terminated for performing an act public policy would condone or refusing to do something public policy would condemn.
Breach of Contract
If there is a contract in place between the employee and employer, termination that constitutes a violation of contract terms may be considered wrongful dismissal. This can include implied contracts, such as an employer making promises about job security to convince an applicant to leave their current job or if the employee handbook lays out rules and guidelines that imply an employer cannot fire someone who is complying with the handbook.
Can You Prove It?
As painful as it may be to admit, life isn’t fair. If you know you were wrongfully dismissed, but you have no way of proving it, you are likely wasting your time and money on a lawsuit. Keep diligent records, ask your employer to explain why you were fired—preferably in writing, and assemble witnesses who can accurately explain the situation in the future. One good way to determine whether or not you have a case is to consult an attorney. Many lawyers offer free consultations, so if you are unsure whether or not suing for unlawful termination is worth your time, check in with an expert.
What Do You Want?
Make sure you have a clear idea of what you want when heading into a lawsuit. Are you seeking monetary damages? Once you spend time and money on a lawsuit, will the reward cover your costs? Do you want your old job back? If you win, do you really feel comfortable returning to that environment? Decide what you really want and make sure it is worth the stress and effort associated with a suit.
Losing a job can be stressful, but asking yourself these questions will help you decide on the best course of action going forward. For more legal advice, consult a trusted law firm like Scher Law.
About the Author
Michael David is a freelance blogger who writes about a variety of topics. He learned more about wrongful dismissal from Scher Law.