As an employee, any termination can feel like a wrongful one. After all, it is typically not the employee’s decision to suddenly lose their job. Fortunately, there are steps that employees can take to ensure that the termination was legal and possibly gain compensation if it was not.
Verify Wrongful Termination
The first step is to determine if the termination truly was wrongful. Wrongful termination may have occurred if the termination breached the employee’s written or implied employment contract or if it falls under one of the following categories:
- Discrimination – Employers do not have the right to terminate employees based solely upon their religion, race, sexual orientation, age or other protected class categories.
- Retaliation – Employers are not allowed to terminate employees for filing claims against the organization or for acting as a whistleblower.
- Refusal to Commit an Illegal Act – Employers may not ask employees to do anything illegal in the course of their duties, nor can they terminate employees for refusing to follow illegal orders.
The next step is to collect as much information as possible regarding the conditions surrounding the termination. This includes compiling documentation regarding the company’s policies and the employee’s specific employment contract (if there was one). In some cases, employees may be able to request a copy of their personnel file, detailing their past performance and any disciplinary actions during their tenure with the company. There may also be documentation explaining the reasons behind the employee’s termination.
Contact Wrongful Termination Attorneys
Once the employee has gathered as much information as possible to support their claim of wrongful termination, an attorney can review the information and develop a course of action. If the attorney determines that the employee does indeed have a valid case, they will then bring the case to the company. While in some cases, the matter may be able to be settled out of court through mediation or other means, the case may need to go to court if an acceptable agreement cannot be reached.
Although there are no specific laws addressing ‘wrongful termination’ as such, employees may still be entitled to compensation if the case is proven to be valid. This can include being reinstated to the job or receiving compensation for time out of work. A favorable result cannot be guaranteed, but it is possible with a strong case.