Find An Employment Attorney For Wrongful Termination
Wrongful termination covers when an employer has fired or laid off an employee in violation of a legal right of the employee. A wrongful termination lawyer or employment attorney can help with your claim against your former employer. To win, the employee cannot just show that he/she was treated unfairly but that the firing was “wrongful” meaning one or more legal rights were violated. Most states have adopted the legal concept of “employment at will” which means that the employer has the right to terminate someone with or without a reason (cause) and the employee has the right to quit at any time with or without a reason. There are exceptions to the employee at will doctrine (the exceptions vary depending on the state where the person worked) and those exceptions generally fall into the broad categories listed below:
- Violations of Public Policy
- Breach of Contract
- Breach of Implied Contract
- Breach of Covenant of Good Faith and Fair Dealing
- Discrimination (age, race, sex, disability, religion, and/or national origin)
Public policy violations are actions that are contrary to what is in the best interests of the public at large and our institutions and laws. For example, if an employer fires someone for bringing to the company’s attention a violation of law (whistle blower), then employees will not help in the effort to enforce applicable laws. Courts have found that firing a whistle blower is contrary to public policy, so the fired employee has a right to sue if he or she has been unfairly fired. Contacting an employment attorney or wrongful termination lawyer is crucial in the pursuit of legal action. Breach of Contract happens when the employee’s firing violates an agreed upon contract right. This right may be the result of a collective bargaining agreement or an individual employment contract. An employment attorney or wrongful termination lawyer can help seek compensation for your injustices.
Breach of Implied Contract happens when the employee’s firing violates an implied (not stated) contract term. For example, if a company has a policy requiring their employees to give two weeks notice, there may be an implied agreement that the employer would give the employee two weeks notice also. If the employee is fired with no notice and no severance, the employee may have a wrongful termination claim.
Breach of Covenant of Good Faith and Fair Dealing applies in some states that have adopted this doctrine that requires employers to treat their employees fairly, honestly, and ethically and show “good cause” for termination. Talk to a wrongful termination attorney or employment lawyer about your state specific laws. Where this applies, employers cannot discharge an employee to avoid promotions and bonuses, invent reasons to terminate an employee or compel an employee to quit. If the employer knowingly makes false accusations about an employee in order to justify their termination, it is known as “defamation of character” and can also be a breach of the covenant of good faith and fair dealings.
Discrimination laws vary from state to state and include federal laws. In almost every state, firing an employee based on his or her age, race, sex, color, national origin, disability, religion, and pregnancy is illegal. Some states and municipalities also prohibit discrimination based on sexual preference. In most cases, discrimination claims must be pursued with The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission before filing a discrimination claim in a wrongful termination lawsuit.
The severity of each of these violations can vary based on the laws broken. Some can result in statutory penalties, while others mean that the employer must pay the wrongfully terminated employer for lost wages, expenses, and sometimes punitive damages.
Wrongful termination complaints can be filed one of two ways: with a government agency that enforces labor laws, or in a private lawsuit with the help of an employment lawyer or wrongful termination attorney. If your employer’s violation is subject to a specific part of state or federal law, it’s a good idea to start with an organization like the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, Occupational and Safety Hazards Administration, or even your state’s labor offices. In cases in which the employer violates public or even company policy, a private lawsuit with the aid of an employment attorney or wrongful termination lawyer is often the only way to settle disputes.
Who Can Sue
Anyone who either works in a jurisdiction without an “employee at will” doctrine or who was fired in violation of public policy, breach of contract, breach of implied contract, breach of covenant of good faith and fair dealing, or discrimination can sue their employer with a wrongful termination lawyer under wrongful termination claims(or make a complaint to the appropriate state or federal agency.) An experienced wrongful termination attorney can analyze the facts of your case and based on the facts of each case determine the strength of the case, likelihood of success and potential recovery.
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