If you believe you have been wrongfully terminated, use this checklist to determine if your firing was illegal. For your firing to be a wrongful termination, there must be a violation of a federal, state or local law or some kind of breach of contract. If you answer yes to any of the below questions, then you may be eligible to file a wrongful termination claim:
Discrimination and Harassment:
- Were you fired due to your race, religion, ethnicity, gender identity, disability, pregnancy, sexual orientation, genetic information, or age?
- Did you experience discriminatory actions while at work?
- Is there evidence, either circumstantial or direct, that your employer fired you for discriminatory reasons?
- Are specific groups of people treated differently than you?
- Were you qualified for your job and/or had good performance reviews?
- Were you fired for reporting workplace discrimination?
- Did you request a reasonable accommodation before getting fired?
- Were unwelcome sexual advances recently made towards you by a coworker?
- Did you recently report to a federal or state agency that you believe your employer was violating a law or regulation?
- Were you warned about participating in an investigation of your employer by a federal or state agency?
- Were you discouraged from exercising your legal rights, like the FMLA or other medical leave?
Violation of Public Policy:
- Did you recently decline to participate in illegal activities at work?
- Were you fired for receiving workers’ compensation?
Breach of Contract:
- Were you in a verbal agreement/promise of a guaranteed job with your employer?
- Has your employer made statements that indicated you can only be fired for specific reasons?
- Did you have a contact that established reasons for termination?
- Does your employee handbook state any reasons for termination?
If you answered "yes" to any of these questions, you may have been a victim of a wrongful termination. You can file a claim to receive compensation, including back pay, missed wages, and legal fees.
Evidence Needed For a Wrongful Termination Claim
When filing a claim, you will need to gather supporting evidence and documentation for your claim against your former employer. You will need to create a checklist of what you should get and how you should respond to file a lawsuit to recover compensation for your damages suffered because of being wrongfully terminated. Here is a rundown of what you need and what you should do:
- Disability – If you have been wrongfully terminated because of a disability, you will need to gather the evidence to support your claim. If you were fired because of time off for your disability or medical condition, or if you were fired for requesting a reasonable accommodation for your disability, you have grounds for a claim against your former employer.
- Gender – Sometimes people are discriminated against because of their gender. Examples of wrongful termination associated to gender discrimination include being fired because of a recent pregnancy announcement. If you have heard derogatory or sexist comments about your gender before your termination, be sure to make note and document it. Ask any colleagues or clients who heard comments of that nature to provide written statements.
- Race – You have been wrongfully terminated from your job because of your race if you have heard derogatory comments about your race or other races before or after your termination. If you were segregated within the company from employees of different races and colors, that could also be a sign of racial discrimination.
- Sexual Orientation – Sometimes employees are wrongfully terminated because of their sexual orientation. You may have been wrongfully terminated because of sexual orientation if you heard homophobic comments made to you before you were terminated from your job.
- Age – If you are 40 or older, you have been wrongfully terminated because of your age if you were previously passed on for a promotion because you were considered “too old” or if you were told the company wants to get a new, fresher look.
- Retaliation – If you have reported mistreatment of other employees, or if you have reported inappropriate financial actions or illegal activity, your employer cannot retaliate against you and fire you. If you can show this was the case, then you have a legitimate claim.
Gathering Evidence and Documentation
You should gather all the supporting evidence that you can to support your claim and to show that you were wrongfully terminated. Keep copies of memos or emails that indicate discrimination or mistreatment. You should gather up any employment contracts, employee handbooks, paystubs, and performance reviews.
Also, get statements from any coworkers, colleagues, or clients who heard negative comments being made about your age, race, sexual orientation, gender, and so forth. You should also check to see if similar instances have occurred to other employees in the past, or if workers have witnessed similar treatment to others in the past.
If you can prove that there is a history of this behavior, it can be beneficial to your wrongful termination claim. The more evidence and documentation that you can provide, the more likely you are to succeed with your claim against your former employer.
Speak with A Lawyer
If you believe that you were wrongfully terminated, you should speak with an employment law attorney who handles wrongful termination cases in your area. An attorney is likely familiar with the federal and state laws and will be able to gather supporting evidence and documentation to help you build a strong claim against your former employer.
Your lawyer can investigate to determine if similar problems have occurred at that employer and if they have a history of wrongful terminations.
With the right evidence, you can succeed with your claim and recover compensation for your lost earnings and mental anguish.
When you speak with an attorney, make sure you understand the payment process. Many employment law attorneys work on a contingency basis, which means that they aren’t paid until you recover compensation through a judgment or a settlement.
If you have answered yes to any of those questions above referring to the different kinds of wrongful termination, then you may be able to pursue a case against your former employer. Don’t delay getting the legal representation that you need.
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