In many cases, if you work for an employer on at-will employment terms, you can be fired without your employer giving you a reason. You can also terminate your employment without having to provide a reason for quitting.
However, there are some situations in which you may be fired illegally. State and federal laws prohibit employers from firing an employee because of discrimination, whistleblowing or because they have applied for workers’ compensation or family or medical leave. If this has happened to you, you may have grounds to sue your employer.
Steps Before Suing Your Company For Wrongful Termination
Step 1: Determine if your firing was illegal. Your employer can only fire you illegally if you were fired because of discrimination, whistleblowing, or because you applied for workers’ compensation or family or medical leave. All these reasons are protected by federal and state legislation, such as Title VII of the Equal Rights Act, which prevents discrimination at work against employees because of their color,
Step 2: Gather evidence to support your claim. You will need evidence that you were fired illegally. Typically useful evidence includes statements from co-workers who support your claim, emails, text messages, letters, audio or video recordings which reveal you were fired illegally.
Step 3: Speak with an employment law attorney. An employment law attorney likely understands how state and federal laws have an impact on your employment and can provide you with useful legal advice before you file your complaint with the EEOC or your equivalent state agency. You will almost certainly need their help if you decide to sue your employer.
Step 4: File a claim with the EEOC or equivalent state body. The EEOC is the federal agency that oversees federal anti-discrimination legislation. They investigate complaints of discrimination at work if you work for an employer who employs 15 or more employees. Nearly every state has similar anti-discrimination laws and there will be a state agency that will investigate complaints of illegal firing if you work in a smaller workplace.
If the EEOC or the state agency cannot resolve your wrongful termination complaint satisfactorily, they may provide you with a ‘right to sue’ letter that allows you to proceed with a civil lawsuit against your employer.
What Happens After I Sue a Company For Firing Me?
When you sue your employer for illegal or wrongful termination, you do this through a civil court. You will need to have gone through the steps described above before being allowed in most states to take legal action directly.
You will need evidence proving that your employer breached employment legislation when you were fired.
You may in most cases find that your case will be more successful if you use an employment lawyer to help you prepare your case before you file it with the court. The wrongful termination lawyer can attempt to negotiate a settlement with your employer before it goes to a court case. A successful settlement could mean reinstatement of your job, or compensation made to you based on unpaid wages, emotional stress, and legal and court fees.
Get Legal Help
You should take your complaint of illegal firing to the relevant state or federal agency first before taking further legal action. If you have been given permission to sue your employer because you believe you were illegally fired, you should get help from an employment lawyer before filing a claim of wrongful termination in court.
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