If you were fired, and you think that the reason for your termination was unlawful, it is possible that you might have a claim for wrongful termination. A wrongful termination claim can be complex and involve complicated laws and procedures. This means that it may be a good idea for you to consult with an experienced employment lawyer at Swartz Swidler. We have talked about wrongful termination and how a lawyer might be able to help you below.
Most workers in the U.S. are employed at-will. At-will employment allows your employer to terminate you at any time for no reason at all or for a legal reason. However, your employer cannot fire you for an illegal reason. Unless you have an employment contract that states that you are not an at-will employee, your employment is likely considered to be at-will. While employers are not required to provide a reason for terminating at-will workers, they often choose to do so. When a reason is given, the termination is considered to be a for cause firing.
Illegal reasons for termination
Employers are not allowed to fire workers for reasons that are in breach of employment contracts or that violate the law. Illegal reasons for firing workers include firing workers because of their protected statuses, terminating them as a type of sexual harassment, firing them as a violation of labor laws, and terminating workers in retaliation for their engaging in protected activities.
Wrongful termination cases
When an employment lawyer at Swartz Swidler analyzes a wrongful termination claim, he or she will consider a number of factors to determine whether the termination was illegal. If you had an employment contract, your attorney will review its provisions to determine if your employer complied with them when you were fired. If specific reasons are listed for the termination in your contract, your employer is not able to fire you for a different reason.
If you do not have a written contract but have an employee handbook with policies that provide disciplinary procedures, your lawyer may review them. He or she may assess whether your employer failed to follow the outlined policies. If the employer did, it may amount to a breach of an implied contract.
Some employers will claim that they terminated their workers for performance issues. If that happened in your case, an employment lawyer might review whether other workers were fired for similar performance issues. If they were not, your lawyer might consider whether your employer may have instead treated you differently because of your legally protected status. In this scenario, your lawyer will look for evidence that proves that your employer’s stated reason was pretextual.
Employers are prohibited from firing workers in retaliation for their engaging in protected activities. This includes reporting your employer for illegal activities, participating in an investigation of your employer, reporting your employer for safety problems, and others. If you were terminated for these types of reasons, your attorney may file a wrongful termination claim against your employer.
When your lawyer evaluates your case, he or she will want to see any documentation that you have from your employer. This might include the contents of your personnel file, your performance evaluations, emails, text messages, and other relevant evidence.
If you received high-performance ratings while you were employed but were fired because of your alleged poor performance, your employer may have used a pretextual reason to cover up an illegal reason for terminating you.
An employment lawyer will also want to know whether any other workers may have witnessed anything related to your job performance and your termination. He or she will want to look at all of the other evidence, so you should bring everything that you have with you when you meet with a lawyer.
A lawyer will also look at the financial losses that you suffered as a result of your termination. In a wrongful termination case, you might be able to recover lost wages, lost benefits, emotional distress damages, attorney’s fees, and punitive damages.
Contact the wrongful termination attorneys at Swartz Swidler
If you think that you were wrongfully terminated or are unclear about whether your termination was unlawful, it is important for you to discuss your case with an experienced employment lawyer. Contact Swartz Swidler today for a free consultation.