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How do I know if I've been wrongfully terminated?

Employees in the United States have rights and protections when it comes to their jobs. Although many jobs in the country do not have contractual agreements assuring employment, meaning an employer may terminate an employee at will, there are ways a termination may be deemed "wrongful."

Employers may not fire an employee as a form of sexual harassment, or on the grounds of discrimination, including discrimination on the grounds of age, sex, sexual orientation, religious beliefs, race or country of origin. In addition, employees have protection against retaliation of a claim or complaint against an employer. This is often known as a whistleblower protection. In addition, for workers with written employment agreements or contracts, a breach of contract may be deemed as a wrongful termination. Lastly, understanding the current labor laws such as collective bargaining agreements will help determine whether your termination was lawful.

If you believe you have been the victim of a wrongful termination, there are several steps you should take to protect yourself and to develop a case against your employer. These steps are important to know for current employees as well, as knowing how to respond to a wrongful termination immediately following your layoff or firing is crucial to developing a strong case. Keeping documentation of everything related to your employment and firing is important.

This may include but is not limited to documenting who fired you, the reason for the firing, collecting your personal file, your employment agreement or contract if applicable. It is also important to personally handle the situation as well as possible. This means to not become intimidated by your bosses or superiors, not to act out negatively towards your employer, and to return company property and follow post-employment procedures. Handling yourself professionally can only help in the future when addressing the possibility of a wrongful termination and any subsequent civil litigation claims you may decide to file.

Source: By findlaw.com, "Wrongful Termination Claims," Accessed Nov. 15, 2016

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