Being fired is a situation no one wants to find themselves in, but it can be even worse if you feel like your termination was unfair or unlawful. This can be highly stressful, especially if you are suffering from lost wages while trying to manage a potential wrongful termination.
If you are in this situation, you naturally therefore may be wondering if it is worth contacting an employment lawyer in your situation.
While you will have certain legal and contractual rights that your employer cannot violate, in most cases, employees are legally deemed “at-will” workers, and as such are subject to firing at the whim of their employer. Using an employment attorney can therefore help you tip the balance of power back in your favour.
Here are a few scenarios where you may have a legitimate wrongful dismissal claim.
One of the most frequent kinds of wrongful termination lawsuits arise out of workers perceiving their employer to have violated the terms of their contract in firing them.
A common example of this pertains to notice periods. If, for instance, you are dismissed with immediate effect, when your contract stipulates you must be given 4 weeks’ notice, you may have a legitimate legal complaint.
This is generally the easiest form of wrongful termination to claim, since nearly all employment contracts have stipulations regarding notice periods, and it is also fairly straightforward to prove.
However, providing you can give evidence that your employer dismissed you in some way that breached the terms of your employment, you may be entitled to compensation in respect to this. It is important to remember, though, that you will need to prove that you suffered material damages as a result of your termination for you to claim compensation.
Given the nature of wrongful terminations, in practice, these usually take the form of lost wages.
It is legally prohibited at a federal level to dismiss an employee on the basis of their race, country of origin, religion, sex, disability, or age. Different states may also have further laws and regulations in place protecting employees further from discrimination.
If you think you have been terminated as a result of discrimination, there are a few things you should be aware of. The first is that not all characteristics may be covered by your region’s discrimination laws.
The second is that, in general, wrongful termination claims related to discrimination have a very short statute of limitations, and such claims can also be difficult to prove. If you think you may have a case in respect to this, you should thus consider hiring a lawyer as quickly as possible.
There are a number of specific situations outside of those covered by the law and your employment contract where your wrongful dismissal claim may still be upheld.
For example, if you can prove that you were fired for a reason that violates the company’s public policy, you may be entitled to compensation.
An exemplative scenario of this would be if you were fired for refusing to do something illegal that you were instructed to do.
Similarly, a company may be found in breach of its “implied contract” with you, if, for example, their dismissal violated policies advertised by the company elsewhere.
However, you should be aware that the likelihood of you winning one of these cases is largely dependent on the specific laws of your region’s jurisdiction. It is therefore important you check these before taking your claim any further.