In an ideal world, we should be able to report things negatively affecting our ability to perform our jobs, such as harassment, discrimination, and illegal goings-on at the company. Unfortunately, we don’t live in an ideal world, and sometimes employees are let go when they’ve tried to do the right thing, or when they’re being discriminated against or harassed. If this happens, it may be a wrongful termination. Don’t let that be the end of the story.
Wrongful Termination or Justifiable Firing?
If you suspect you’ve been wrongfully terminated, you may be able to pursue a lawsuit depending on the circumstances surrounding your case. It’s worth pursuing if you were let go for any of the reasons below:
- Discrimination of a protected class (race, age, pregnancy, disability, other medical conditions, color, national origin, religion, gender identity, sex, sexual orientation, or veteran status)
- Blowing the whistle when the company is doing something illegal
- Hostile work environment
- Harassment (sexual or otherwise)
- Pursuing worker’s compensation for a work-related injury
If any of these apply, a wrongful termination suit will be an add-on to your initial lawsuit. For example, being let go due to your sexual orientation is the basis for your claim, while wrongful termination would be an additional claim. At-will employment would not apply if you were let go for an illegal reason.
Document, Document, Document
The biggest thing to keep in mind is the ability to prove that you were fired for one of these reasons and not for cause. Employers may try to say you were performing poorly or just didn’t fit in with the rest of the team. To combat this, consider the events that occurred before termination.
Perhaps you had been passed over for promotion, demoted, or held to different standards than the rest of your colleagues. Maybe someone made disparaging comments about your faith, gender identity, or another protected class. It’s also possible you weren’t alone in being treated badly. Suppose you had taken medical leave to recover from surgery and then found yourself laid off shortly after your return.
If others who share your protected class experienced the same treatment, banding together gives your claim more merit. Witness corroboration and any type of written documentation also give credence to your wrongful termination claim.
Unfortunately, it may not end there if your former employer has a pretext for your firing.
Clearing Your Name to Get What’s Yours
You can fight this if you can prove it’s a false pretext made up to avoid admitting you were discriminated against. Did the employer show leniency towards others who committed the same errors? Did they completely ignore their usual disciplinary policies? Is there no evidence of their allegations? If this is the case, their arguments won’t hold water.
Know Your Rights
If you suspect you’ve been wrongfully terminated, you can fight back. Contact an employment attorney who specializes in these cases and see what you may be able to do. Don’t let an unscrupulous employer rob you of what’s rightly yours.