Do I Need a Wrongful Termination Lawyer?
Being fired isn’t easy and often feels unfair or unwarranted, but that doesn’t mean it is illegal. Wrongful termination is firing for an illegal reason, such as discrimination or retaliation, or in violation of a contract. You may need a lawyer after being fired in the following situations:
- You have an employment contract, and your employer fired you even though you met all the contract requirements.
- You felt you had a verbal contract and were fired without just cause.
- You believe you were fired because of your race, color, sex, national origin, disability, religion, or other protected characteristic.
- You reported your employer’s illegal activities, health and safety violations, or illicit employment practices and then lost your job.
- You lost your job after suffering a workplace injury and filing for workers’ compensation.
- Your employer fired you and replaced you with a worker with a lower salary.
- Your employer violated company policy when firing you, which may be a breach of an implied contract.
- You lost your job because you needed time off for jury duty, military service, or voting.
- You lost your job over your union or organizing activities.
Wrongful termination is not limited to being fired. If you quit or resigned but felt coerced into it, you may have a case for wrongful termination. For example, if your employer keeps changing your job status or location or makes the workplace hostile or uncomfortable, it could be considered illegal behavior.
How Will a Wrongful Termination Lawyer Help Me?
Laws that protect workers from wrongful termination include several at the federal level as well as state laws. It can be difficult to determine the laws that apply, whether your termination was illegal, and what you can do about it if it was. Let a wrongful termination lawyer evaluate your situation and provide advice. They can do several things to help you:
- Clarify your termination.
If you’re not clear on what happened, and if it constitutes wrongful termination, a lawyer experienced in employment law can help. They’ll evaluate your situation and tell you if the termination was illegal and how strong your case is if you want to make a claim.
- Negotiate with your employer.
You don’t necessarily have to take legal action over a wrongful termination. Your lawyer can talk to your employer and negotiate a severance package to make up for the termination. They may be able to get you monetary damages to tide you over until you can find a new job.
- Make a discrimination claim.
If your firing was discriminatory, you’ll need to file a claim with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) to take action. Your lawyer can help you through this process.
- File a lawsuit.
For other types of wrongful termination, or if the EEOC gives you a Notice of Right to Sue, your lawyer will start a lawsuit for you. They will advocate on your behalf to negotiate a settlement or to win a jury verdict if you go to trial.
- Recover damages.
Suing or filing a claim over wrongful termination may result in damages. A job loss may cost you money in lost wages, lost benefits, expenses related to finding a new job or relocating, and emotional distress. Your lawyer will find all the costs and make sure you have a good chance of recouping those losses.
How to Find a Wrongful Termination Lawyer
Lawyers specializing in employment laws have the qualifications and experience to help victims of wrongful termination. They understand all the various federal and state laws that apply and help their clients take legal action when their workplace rights are violated.
Check with anyone you know who has had employment issues. They may have a lawyer to recommend. Other places to look for a lawyer include your state bar association and local organizations that offer legal advice, like a legal aid society. If your case involves discrimination, look for advocacy groups that have networks of lawyers.
Working with Your Wrongful Termination Lawyer
Finding the right lawyer is the first step in remedying your employment situation. Take care when selecting the lawyer or firm for your case. Important questions to ask as you interview lawyers include:
- What is your experience with employment law?
- Can you show me similar cases you have worked on and won?
- Do you think I have a strong case for wrongful termination?
- What are my options for steps to take next?
- Is filing a lawsuit a good choice?
- Can I recover damages, and if so, how much?
- Who will work on my case?
- How involved will I be, and when will I receive updates?
- What are your fees, and how do you charge them?
- How long do you expect my case to take?
It’s important to ask these questions and to be informed about your case, so you are empowered to make the right decisions. It is also essential to provide information for your lawyer. They will need all the documentation you can provide, including hiring agreements, contracts, performance review, your personnel file, and any written communications with your employer.
Being fired without cause or over discrimination is upsetting and unfair. It may also be illegal. Talk to a wrongful termination lawyer as soon as possible so you can take legal steps to right this wrong.