What Constitutes Wrongful Termination?

By: Gregg Zeff
On: April 29, 2024

Wrongful Termination

Our jobs are important to us in many ways. We rely on our income for just about every aspect of our lives: from paying bills to enjoying a night out with friends or family. So, when we lose a job, it can be a frightening and painful experience. Unfortunately, our employers have a lot of control over deciding whether or not we can keep our jobs, especially if we are considered at-will employees. But regardless of what kind of job you have, or how your employment contract characterizes your employment status, there are certain reasons that an employer can never use as a basis to terminate your employment, referred to as wrongful termination. In short, you can never be dismissed from your job because of:

  • Race or other protected status
  • In retaliation for reporting an employer violation
  • A disability that does not implicate your ability to perform your job duties
  • For a reason that is otherwise prohibited by an employment contract or by statute.

Read on to learn additional signs of wrongful termination so that you can determine if your employer has fired you under improper pretenses.

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What Are Some Of The Different Kinds Of Wrongful Termination?

There are five main ways that an employee can experienc wrongful termination.

  1. Discrimination: An employer cannot dismiss an employee on the basis of their race, religion, gender, sexual orientation, ethnicity, or age.
  2. Retaliation: If you have reported a violation committed by your employer or by a fellow colleague, and then shortly thereafter are dismissed, your employer may have wrongfully retaliated against you, and you may have a wrongful termination claim.
  3. Statutory Violations: Every state has laws that explicitly prohibit the termination of employees under certain pretenses or without following certain processes. Depending on your job, you may be afforded additional protections before you are fired from your job and an employer’s failure to do so constitutes wrongful termination.
  4. Breach of Contract: Similarly, many employment contracts outline the processes and circumstances by which an employee can be terminated from their job. Violating those terms is a breach of contract and also constitutes wrongful termination.
  5. Disability: An employer cannot fire an employee who seeks reasonable accommodations to perform their job duties with their disability, or seeks leave to handle a medical condition. This is sometimes seen as retaliation.

The list above is not exhaustive. You may still have been wrongfully terminated even if your circumstances don’t quite fit into one of the above categories. Talk with a wrongful termination attorney to determine if your termination was unlawful.

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What Are The Signs Of Wrongful Termination?

wrongful termination can be difficult to identify because most employers will try to cover up their bad motives with valid excuses for termination. For example, it is extremely unlikely that an employer is going to send out an email that unilaterally terminates all women from their jobs. Such an act would be unquestionably discriminatory and a violation of federal law. Instead, the employer would likely try to micromanage undesirable employees and nit-pick every task completed by the employee to make it appear that their work performance is subpar, thus validating termination. If you believe your work performance was acceptable and that your employer may have had an ulterior motive behind your termination, contact a wrongful termination attorney to discuss your legal options.

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Can I Sue My Employer For Wrongful Termination?

Yes. Employers are bound to the terms of the employment contracts they engage in with their employees, as well as all relevant federal and state laws. If an employer fails to adhere to these rules, they can be sued for wrongful termination, and the wrongfully terminated employee can seek damages against their former employer. A wrongful termination attorney can walk you through the litigation process and help you get the compensation you deserve.

How Can An Employee Prove Wrongful Termination?

As noted above, an employer will almost always try to argue that your termination was for legitimate reasons. The way to prove that it was wrongful termination is to prove that the alleged reason for your termination is false. For example, if your employer claims you were fired for being habitually late, evidence of you arriving at work on time would discredit the employer’s reasons. If you believe you were dismissed for discriminatory reasons, proof of your employer using harassing language or making disparaging comments supports a wrongful termination claim. Finally, evidence that your employer failed to follow established written policies can also support a claim for wrongful termination.

Contact Zeff Law Firm If You Believe You Were Wrongfully Terminated

Zeff Law Firm works with individuals who have been wrongfully terminated from their job and can quickly evaluate your case to determine if you have a viable wrongful termination claim. Contact our experienced wrongful termination attorneys today to discuss your case and next steps.

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