Workers have their employment terminated every day. If the grounds for termination were valid and legal, there’s nothing former employees can do other than start looking for a new job. However, wrongful terminations also occur with surprising frequency, and when they do, workers should always fight for their rights.
What Is Wrongful Termination?
Wrongful termination can be defined as a situation in which an employer terminates an employee’s contract of employment in a way that breaches one of that contract’s terms or, more frequently, legal protections offered to all workers. The most common form of wrongful termination involves being fired as a result of discrimination, but at MSJB Employment Justice, workers who have suffered as a result of any kind of wrongful termination can find the help they need.
The Importance of Hiring a Lawyer
Proving they were wrongfully terminated, or even knowing what legal options are available for holding the employer responsible, can be difficult for former employees. A lawyer can evaluate the circumstances surrounding a worker’s being fired and determine whether the situation could be considered wrongful termination. Lawyers can also help to collect evidence, file paperwork, build a case, and provide courtroom representation if the claim cannot be settled.
How to Prove Wrongful Termination
Even if a wrongful termination case seems straightforward, it’s always best to seek legal counsel. The process of filing a claim and, if necessary, taking the case to court can be complex. A lawyer can walk his or her client through each of the following steps, or former employees can do some of the legwork themselves.
1. Collecting Evidence
To prove a wrongful termination claim, a worker will need to clearly document his or her employment status and the circumstances surrounding its termination. Documents that can act as evidence in these types of cases can include:
- Employment contracts
- Personnel files
- Copies of workplace policies
- Employee handbooks
- Union contracts
- Performance reviews
- Memos and emails
- Statements from coworkers
- Pay stubs
- Termination notices
2. Drafting a Statement
Every detail matters when it comes to filing a wrongful termination claim, so don’t wait too long to take note of them. The fired worker should write a statement as soon as possible after being terminated that describes the situation and why it violated his or her rights. Make sure to include a timeline and contact information for anyone who was directly or indirectly involved.
3. Determining Which Laws Were Broken
There are multiple laws that prohibit employers from firing employees under certain circumstances. Determining which laws were broken or rights were violated can be hard. Look for issues such as:
- Age discrimination
- Lack of accommodations for mental or physical disability
- Breach of employment contracts
- Gender discrimination
- Retaliation for filing workers’ compensation claims
- Pregnancy discrimination
- Public policy violation
- Racial discrimination
- Sexual orientation discrimination
- Retaliation for whistleblowing
Keep in mind here that just knowing a law has been broken isn’t enough to prove a wrongful termination case. The former employee will also need to provide evidence of the employer’s wrongdoing.
The Importance of Finding a Lawyer
While there’s no legal requirement that wrongfully terminated employees seek legal counsel before filing a claim, it’s always better to hire a lawyer. An employment justice attorney will know the ins and outs of all the applicable state and federal laws, including statutes of limitation for filing new claims and how best to make a case. Hiring a lawyer won’t guarantee positive results, but it will increase the chances that a wrongfully terminated employee will get a job back or receive just compensation.