Losing your job is rarely a pleasant experience. But when you’ve unfairly lost your job, it’s even more disheartening. Whether you’ve been dismissed for something that you didn’t do or you’ve been given unfair performance reviews, you may have a right to file a wrongful termination suit against your former employer. In order to have a wrongful termination claim, you have to have been released from employment for reasons deemed illegal by the law. Some of these reasons include being fired as a discriminatory act, as a form of sexual harassment and as retaliation for whistleblowing.
If you suspect that you are a victim of being illegally let go from your employment, it is important that you stay calm and objective. Any display of aggression or hostility can be used against you in the future should you decide to take legal action. You should also limit your contact with your former employer and co-workers to help safeguard yourself.
One of the first things you may think about doing is seeking unemployment compensation so that you can have some income while you are between jobs. But before you do this, it may be advantageous to familiarize yourself with the terms of your employment agreement or employee handbook. You also need to be clear on the grounds of your termination and whose decision it was to terminate you. Make sure you get all of this information in writing (why you were let go, the terms of your severance package, etc.).
Another thing that you can do is attempt to negotiate a severance package. All employers are not legally required to offer severance packages. But if you were wrongfully dismissed you may be able to negotiate a severance package in exchange for your accepting your termination and signing away your right to pursue the matter legally. If you decide to do this, make sure that the agreement you are entering truly benefits you.
When negotiating for severance, be sure to think all offers and counteroffers through very carefully. It is a good idea not to accept your former employer’s first offer, as this is usually an offer that benefits them more than it does. If you are worried about intimidation, involve an attorney or mediator in the negotiations. A good rule of thumb is to make sure that the agreement is not cancellable upon your gaining new employment.
Quitting vs. Firing
And if you voluntarily quit your job as a result of intolerable working conditions, also called constructive discharge, you may also have grounds to file a wrongful termination suit. Having documented evidence to uphold your claim that your quitting was a direct result of the work environment or unfair treatment or targeting will likely be necessary.
If you’ve unfairly lost your job, you do have some recourse, and you may be within your rights to file a claim with the courts. But before you file a wrongful termination suit against your former employer, consult with an attorney to make sure that you have a solid case. A lawyer can inform you of your rights and give you clarity on how you should move forward.