Wrongful Termination: Were You Fired Illegally?
Being fired from a job is disheartening, but it’s worse if you may have been fired illegally. It is usually quite disorienting, frustrating, and sad. However, there are cases where the firing was against the law. In those cases, the firing is called wrongful termination. When you’ve been wrongfully terminated, what you do next is important. You also may be looking into how to sue your employer for wrongful termination.
But, let’s dive into the details first.
Fired Illegally? What Is Wrongful Termination?
Wrongful termination comes in all shapes and sizes, which can make it difficult to know if you’ve been wrongfully terminated. A couple of rules of thumb are below. But keep in mind that the best thing you can do for your situation is contact an employment lawyer.
Written Or Implied Promises
Most of the time, employment is considered an “at-will” position. An employer may fire an employee at any time, and the employee may leave at any time, preferably with a certain amount of notice.
A written promise, guaranteeing job permanence, from your employer could be used as proof of wrongful termination. Such a promise states job security. An example of a written promise would be an offer letter or an employment contract that specifically states your job security and the only acceptable reasons for firing. These written promises may force an employer to follow through on those promises under the law.
An implied promise is more difficult to prove. And the court examines this in a couple of ways. The investigation begins with details such as the length of your employment, performance reports, and job promotions. Specific considerations will be given to any promises made about long term employment or violations made against the company’s policy in firing.
Breaches Of Good Faith And Dealing
In some courts, breaches of good faith and dealing are not considered applicable to “at-will” employment. A court might require an employment contract. Once an employment contract is a part of the investigation, the claim that an employer breached this understanding will be reviewed.
The best way to recognize breaches of good faith and dealing is through examples. A company who transfers an employee so they do not receive their sales commission or misleads an employee about a promotion or salary raise will be scrutinized closely. Courts have ruled dishonesty about difficult or dangerous aspects of a job as a breach. Also, bad employer etiquette includes trying to force an employee to quit by assigning him or her to bad areas of town or difficult duties so that he or she will quit and not receive their benefits.
Public Policy Violations
Within society, there are specific reasons considered illegitimate reasons for firing. Public policy violations would include being fired for voting, serving in the military, or participating in jury duty. These are all respected duties within our society.
Not only is discrimination in firing illegal but so is employer retaliation against an employee for a legal course of action such as filing a complaint. Whistle-blowing is another area where it’s illegal for an employer to fire an employee. Be sure to know your rights.
Fraud And Defamation
These are the most serious accusations that you can bring against your employer, but they are also some of the most difficult to prove. The key is to show that your employer planned to deceive you. Fraud is most often discovered during the recruiting stages or near the end of employment. Defamation, on the other hand, is when your employer spreads lies about your character as a worker, which could cause your career harm, whether in future hiring or firing. Both of these cases are very serious. If you think that your employer may have been participating in fraud or defamation when they fired you, contact an employment lawyer for aid in unraveling your situation and how the law can protect you.
If you find yourself in the stressful situation of wrongful termination for any of the above reasons, contact an employment lawyer who will know how to navigate your case and your rights under the law.