If you have been fired from your job without cause, you may be stressed, confused, and upset. You may be left wondering what you should do next. There is help available. When you are fired from a job, it is only reasonable to expect your employer to indicate why you were terminated so you will understand the reasoning behind it and not make the same mistake. If you are able to demonstrate you were fired for an illegal reason, rather than without cause, then you may be able to file a claim.
If the cause that is stated was frivolous, or they could not provide supporting evidence, you may be able to take action. If a cause wasn’t stated, but you think you were wrongfully terminated, you should consult with an employment law attorney. You should talk with an attorney right away because you have limited time to pursue a claim for wrongful termination if you have a legitimate case. Be sure to maintain a file of evidence and documentation for your claim against your employer.
Can You Be Fired Without Cause?
If you live in an at-will employment state then yes, your employer doesn’t need a reason to fire you. At-will employment allows employers to terminate an employee at any time. Currently the only state that isn’t an at-will employment state is Montana. Although, some states exceptions and regulations that limit at-will employment.
Florida, Alabama, Louisiana, Georgia, Nebraska, Maine, New York, and Rhode Island don’t have any restrictions on at-will employment so if you live in one of those states your employer can fire you at any time as long as it’s not for an illegal reason.
Even in an at-will employment state an employer can’t fire an employee because of their race, sex, gender, age, disability, religion, or other characteristics that are protected by Federal and state discrimination laws. Anyone that is fired for a discriminatory reason can file a complaint for wrongful termination against that employer.
If you think that you were fired for a discriminatory or illegal reason, and you can show a pattern of discrimination, then you may have a solid basis for a wrongful termination claim.
For example, if you become pregnant and ask to be allowed to sit for your shift because you are pregnant, and your employer fires you, that’s a wrongful termination. By law, your employer must make reasonable accommodations during your pregnancy.
Or, if your religion says that you must pray at certain times of the day and your employer fires you because they say you’re not able to work during those times of the day that’s a wrongful termination.
Can You Be Fired for No Reason?
There are different laws concerning employment at will. Different states allow termination for different things, and some violations may lead to a claim in one state but not in another. In employment, at-will employment is a term that refers to contractual relationships in which an employee can be dismissed or terminated from their job by their employer for any reason. This termination can be without warning just so long as the reason for termination isn’t illegal.
What can you be fired for? There are many reasons for terminating employment. If you don’t adhere to company regulations, if you are frequently late for work, if you have unexcused absences, if you have poor work performance, if you cannot get along well with co-workers or customers, and so forth.
Fired for No Reason vs. Wrongful Termination
The difference between being fired for no reason and wrongful termination comes down to why you were fired. If you were fired for an illegal reason, then you may have a wrongful termination claim.
There are many reasons that you cannot be fired for. Sometimes competent employees are wrongfully terminated from their jobs. Sometimes people are fired because employers are discriminating against employees because of their age, their gender, their religion, their race, or so forth.
Or, sometimes an individual is wrongfully terminated for being a whistleblower or you may be forced to resign because your employer made working conditions unbearable. Constructive discharge – or forced resignation – may be related to harassment, mistreatment, and reduced pay for reasons that aren’t associated with your work abilities or performance.
If company policy has specific guidelines for terminating an employee and the company doesn’t adhere to its guidelines, then you may be able to pursue a claim for wrongful termination because the company didn’t adhere to their own guidelines that were provided in detail in employee paperwork, such as a handbook.
What to Do If Your Firing Was Illegal
If you have been terminated without cause but you think you were wrongfully terminated, you may be able to pursue a wrongful termination lawsuit against your employer for their actions. You will need to prove the actual reason for your termination was illegal. This will require proving that you were victim of workplace discrimination, protected under whistleblower laws, or that your termination violated a company policy or contract.
The first step is to try to establish why you were fired. While remaining calm, you may be able to ask for a reason. Maintain any correspondence when trying to establish a reason. If you do not receive one, you may still be able to file a claim.
You’ll next need to gather and maintain any evidence to prove that you were wrongfully terminated. If you believe you were wrongfully terminated for a discriminatory reason, you may need the following evidence:
- Copies of discriminatory emails, memos, etc.
- Witness statements
- Journal outlining discrimination
- Employee contract
- Copies of employee reviews
If you believe you were fired because you were a whistleblower, you may need:
- Witness statements of any retaliation
- Copies of complaint as a whistleblower
- Journal detailing any other retaliation
- Employee contract
- Copies of employee reviews
If you believe your firing was in breach of a contract, you may need the following:
- Employee contract
- Copy of employee handbook
- Witness statements for any verbal contracts
- Copies of any correspondence about a contract, raise, etc. not upheld by employer
Once you’ve gathered your information, you can file a claim with the Equal Employment Opportunity Council (EEOC). The EEOC will then examine you claim and decide the next course of action. They may decide you have grounds for a civil lawsuit and advise you to file one. When filing a claim, it may be advisable to seek legal assistance.
Getting Help with a Wrongful Termination Claim
There is a strict time limit, or a statute of limitations for pursuing a claim, so you should consult with an employment law attorney who is licensed to handle such cases in your state. An employment lawyer can help you with your claim because he or she is familiar with the laws on both a state and federal level and will be able to review all the supporting evidence and documentation that you have for your case.
When you hire an employment law attorney for your wrongful termination case, they may likely take the case on a contingency basis, which means that you will not have to pay them out of pocket, and they will not be paid until your claim has been won or settled. Some do require a payment first, so be sure to ask payment requirements.
Complete the Free Case Evaluation Form on this page today, so you can have the details of your case shared with an independent, participating employment law attorney who subscribes to the website. The lawyer can determine the best way to proceed with your claim against your employer.