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Wrongful Termination Lawyer

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In today’s tight labor market, the risk of being fired is greater than ever. Employees are taking chances by standing up for themselves and their rights more than ever before. This is excellent news for employees who have been suffering in silence. However, it can be a double-edged sword for those who stand up for themselves and pay the price. 

Fortunately, laws are designed to protect employees from illegal termination on various grounds. Many states have statutes that protect workers from wrongful termination based on certain characteristics such as age, race, gender, religion, and other protected classifications. 

If you feel you have been fired unfairly due to any of these characteristics or on another basis not covered here, read on to learn about your legal rights and what kind of action you may be able to take against your former employer.

What Is Wrongful Termination?

Wrongful termination is when an employer fires an employee in violation of a state or federal rule, statute, or public policy. These reasons are not related to the employee’s performance or productivity, but instead, are substantially motivated by violation of public policy. 

Wrongful termination can occur for a variety of reasons, including discrimination, whistleblowing, or refusing to break the law. There are several types of termination that are considered wrongful. 

They include termination that results from an employer’s breach of the contract, firing an employee in violation of employment law, firing an employee who complains about not being paid all their wages, or firing an employee who is disabled and eligible for a reasonable accommodation.

5 Traits of a Great Wrongful Termination Lawyer

Field Experience

It’s important to hire someone who has experience with employment law specifically, rather than someone who has mainly worked in family law or some other niche. 

Typically, the more experience and employment cases your lawyer has taken on, the better. This will ensure they will know how to properly handle the case and anything that comes up in court, therefore increasing your chances of winning. 

Empathy

It’s highly likely and normal that you may feel distraught about how you were wrongfully terminated. This will be a sensitive case, so you will want a lawyer who is aware of this, and has true empathy for you. 

Having someone who is on your side and has your back in the situation will be crucial. Finding a lawyer who is able to adequately express this empathy and passion, while also using the facts and proven evidence is essential. 

Communication Skills that Work

When finding a lawyer, you want to make sure that they can communicate well and are easy to understand. Try laying out all the details of your case for them, and then have them repeat it back to you in their own words. Did they relay it properly and correctly? 

Someone who truly understands you and your case, and what you are fighting for is key. They should also be able to answer any questions that you have thoroughly. 

Preparation

Make sure that your attorney is involving you in the process as they prepare for court. They should be asking you questions and gathering any/all evidence. Most importantly, they should keep you in the loop on everything that they are preparing and their plan of attack in court. 

This way, both of you will be on the same page. It will ensure that you know what to expect in court and that your lawyer is laying out everything you feel is needed, along with what they know will be necessary from their perspective and experience. 

Responsiveness and Availability

This will likely be a stressful situation for you, so you don’t want a layer that is going to add more stress and uncertainty. Your lawyer should respond to you quickly and thoroughly. 

On top of this, it should be expected that they reach out in a timely manner about any sort of issues or questions that they have that will require action or response from you. 

Wrongful Termination Cases

Employment Contract Violation

This is one of the most common grounds for wrongful termination lawsuits. An employment contract is an agreement between an employer and an employee that outlines the terms and conditions of the employment relationship. Most employment relationships are at-will, but there are circumstances when employees and employers negotiate an employment relationship based on specific terms

If you have an employment contract, you have the right to sue your employer for breach of contract if they do not follow the terms of the contract, such as terminating you for a reason that is not allowed under the contract terms. Typically, individual employment contracts are created and signed by executives and managers at top-level positions. 

Public Policy Violation

The best kind of case to bring against your former employer in a wrongful termination suit is one that has a strong policy violation angle. The best way to win a wrongful termination suit is to prove that your former employer knew what you were doing was in compliance with public policy, but fired you anyway. 

The best way to win a wrongful termination suit against your former employer is to bring a policy violation case against them. The employer will have the burden of showing that the termination decision was for a legal reason.  The employee can then show that the decision to terminate was actually based on an illegal reason in violation of public policy.

Differential Treatment

Differential treatment or disparate treatment is proof that you were treated differently than other employees were treated. For example, suppose you were written up for a violation of company policy that other employees were not written up for. In that case, you can argue that you were treated differently than others, if you fall within a protected category, and that this differential treatment caused you to be terminated. 

For example, if you are a woman who was fired for taking sick leave, but male employees were allowed to take sick leave, you can argue that you were treated differently because you are a woman and were fired due to this differential treatment.

Evidence For Your Case

When you are planning your case against your former employer for wrongful termination, you will want to keep an eye out for evidence that you were mistreated, that you were in compliance with company policies and standards, and that your employer did not follow their own policies and the law when they fired you. You can use your co-workers’ treatment evidence to help build your case. 

For example, suppose your supervisor gives one of your co-workers a pass for breaking a company policy or standard and doesn’t do the same for you. In that case, that is evidence that you were treated differently than others because you are a member of a protected class. You can also prove that your employer did not follow their own policies and standards when they fired you. 

For example, if your employer does not have a written company policy on absenteeism, they cannot fire you for violating it if you take sick leave or in retaliation for taking accrued sick time. You can also use evidence that your employer did not follow their own policies and standards when they hired you. 

For example, if your employer failed to investigate your work history thoroughly, they may not be able to fire you for misconduct on the job if they did not follow their hiring standards when they hired you.

What Do I Do if I Suspect I Have Been Wrongfully Terminated?

If you are fired, you should immediately write down the date, time, reason for termination, and the names of any witnesses. If possible, write down details of conversations with your employer leading up to the termination. You might want to keep an electronic record of all this information in a secure cloud-based account. However, do not record any conversations without all parties consent - California is a two-party consent state and it is illegal to record someone without their permission.

If you believe you’ve been wrongfully terminated, you should consider engaging the services of an experienced employment attorney to help you seek damages for your wrongful termination. The sooner you act, the better your chances of success.

Final Thoughts

Suppose you work in an at-will employment state - like California - in that case, your employer can fire you for any reason, or no reason, as long as they do not violate any state laws, such as discrimination or public policy violations. 

If you work in an employment-at-will state, it is best to make every effort to keep a low profile and avoid confrontation at all costs. This way, you should not be fired for anything that could be interpreted as insubordination or misconduct. 

If you feel you have been wrongfully terminated, you can use the information in this article to determine which grounds for wrongful termination apply to your situation and how to build a case against your former employer.

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