When to File a Wrongful Termination Lawsuit
Companies fire people for a number of reasons. Unfortunately, not all of them are justified—or legal. In fact, wrongful termination is one of the most common types of employment lawsuits that are filed.
While many people have been victims of wrongful termination, not everyone knows what to do when this happens, or whether a lawsuit should be filed at all. This brief guide will help you understand what constitutes wrongful termination, and what your next steps should be if you decide to file a lawsuit against your former employer.
What is wrongful termination?
The first step in your consideration for filing a lawsuit should be to determine your “cause of action.” This is the reason you believe you were wrongfully or unlawfully fired. There are several employer violations that may constitute wrongful termination. These include:
- Discrimination – An employer can’t fire you on the basis of your age, gender, race, or nationality.
- Leave of absence – You cannot be terminated for taking a valid leave of absence. Valid leaves include family and medical purposes.
- Retaliation – It’s illegal for employers to fire employees in retaliation for reporting various company violations to the authorities, such as labor law, sanitation, and working condition violations.
- Breach of contract – Most employment contracts state the terms under which you can be terminated. If you and your employer have signed an employment contract, and the terms have been violated, it may be considered wrongful termination.
- Other reasons – Workplace dispute terminations, violations of company policies, or refusals to follow a superior’s request to commit illegal acts may also be considered wrongful termination.
Gathering evidence for wrongful firing
When you file a wrongful termination lawsuit, you must be able to prove to the court that you were wrongfully or unlawfully fired. The next step in the process is to compile evidence of the termination, which you can present to an attorney to help build your case.
Evidence may include:
- Paper or electronic documentation such as pay stubs, records of hiring, employment contracts, and termination reports
- Witness accounts of your employment situation and termination
- Testimony or statements from the parties responsible for the termination
- A written account of the events pertaining to your termination, from start to finish
Your evidence should support the basis of your claim, and serve as proof that you were terminated for the reasons stated in your lawsuit.
Filing steps for wrongful termination lawsuits
In most cases, you’ll first need to file your claim with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) or the equivalent government administrative agency that handles employment law disputes in your area.
Once you submit your claim and appropriate evidence, the EEOC will investigate the claim and conclude whether you were wrongfully terminated. If the case is decided in your favor, your former employer will be required to compensate your losses. This may include reimbursing lost wages and restoring you to your job.
If the EEOC does not help your case, you may be able to file a civil lawsuit against your former employer for wrongful termination. Generally, you’ll be required to “exhaust your remedies,” or wait for the conclusion of the EEOC investigation, prior to filing a lawsuit.
An experienced attorney can help you file a wrongful termination suit, and may even be able to help you with your EEOC claim and improve your chances of a favorable settlement.
The Miami trial lawyers at Baron & Herskowitz have successfully represented many clients in wrongful termination lawsuits, and helped them restore their lives after a wrongful firing. Contact us today to discuss the details of your employment lawsuit.