How to Sue Your Employer for Wrongful Termination
Wrongful termination is not the same as “unfair” termination. Before bringing a lawsuit, you must understand what is considered “wrongful” termination. Essentially, you have a wrongful termination case if your termination was illegal. Here are some examples of wrongful termination:
- Your termination was an act of discrimination
- An employer breached your employment contract in firing you
- You were fired after taking valid medical or family leave
- You were fired after being refused a reasonable accommodation for a disability
- You were fired in an act of retaliation
- You were fired after refusing to commit illegal acts
Remember, these are just some examples. In essence, you must be able to prove that the employer’s reason for firing you was illegal. If you have a case, contact an employment lawyer who can walk you through the steps necessary to sue your employer.
Understand “At-will” Employment
Pennsylvania is an “at-will” state which means that you or your employer can end the employee-employer relationship at any time for any or no reason. If you are at-will, you can be fired for any or no reason unless the reason for firing:
- Violates public policy (principles that serve the good of the public overall, even without written laws)
- Violates a federal or state law
Keep in mind, if you are fired and “at-will,” you cannot bring a wrongful termination lawsuit unless your termination meets one or both of the above criteria.
Preparing for a Wrongful Termination Lawsuit
In order to build the strongest case, you should do the following:
- Collect any documents regarding your termination including write-up slips and your termination letter or email
- Collect other employment documents that may be relevant to your case (e.g., timesheets)
- Write a detailed account of your termination
Since memories fade with time, having a written record to refer to can benefit both you and your employment lawyer.
Where to Bring a Wrongful Termination Lawsuit
To sue your employer for wrongful termination, you must file in state court. You have two years to bring your wrongful termination suit to state court.
If you plan to sue for discrimination and/or retaliation as well, you must file a charge with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”). You have 180 days to file a charge with this federal agency. Once the claim is dismissed, or after you receive a Notice of Right-to-Sue, you can bring a lawsuit against your employer for discrimination and/or retaliation.
You do not always need to go through the EEOC in pursuing your wrongful termination lawsuit. For example, if you were fired for seeking workers’ compensation, you can go straight to state court with your lawsuit. Talk to an employment lawyer who can help you build the strongest case and file your lawsuit.