If you believe your former employer wrongfully terminated you, the first item on your to-do list should be to contact a wrongful termination attorney. One of the most important reasons for scheduling a free case evaluation with a wrongful termination lawyer is to determine whether your employer wrongfully fired you. Wrongful termination involves firing an employee for an unlawful reason. According to the at-will employment doctrine, employers can terminate employees for no reason at all. Let’s say your employer consolidated two departments into one department, with your position eliminated to save money. Your former employer has the right to terminate you because you no longer have a position with the company.
What is a Wrongful Termination Attorney?
As a type of employment lawyer, a wrongful termination attorney specializes in handling cases that seek compensation for clients that lost their jobs because of an illegal act committed by a former employer. The most common form of wrongful termination cases involves discrimination. According to Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, employers cannot fire workers because of race, gender, disability, national origin, and several other demographic factors. For example, an employer cannot terminate a worker because the employer does not approve of the worker’s sexual orientation.
Another example of a wrongful termination case that violates federal law is a case of retaliation. Employers cannot fire employees as an act of retaliation. For instance, let’s assume you notified the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) concerning multiple safety violations in the workplace. Your employer cannot retaliate by terminating you. You also cannot lose your job for exercising a legal right, such as the right to vote.
Some positions, especially positions in upper management, require an employment contract that voids the at-will employment doctrine. If your former employer fired you and you had an employment contract, hiring a lawyer for a wrongful termination case might lead to the filing of a civil lawsuit that seeks monetary damages, among other types of legal remedies.
How Can a Wrongful Termination Attorney Help?
Knowing the answer to the question, “What does a wrongful termination attorney do” gives you an idea about how a lawyer can help you receive justice for an unlawful firing. An employment lawyer who specializes in handling wrongful termination cases meets with you during a free case evaluation to determine the best course of legal action. The first item on the agenda is to decide whether you are a victim of wrongful termination. If the attorney agrees with your wrongful termination assertion, the next step involves gathering and collecting evidence.
Your wrongful termination lawyer needs to have access to your employee file to make copies of documents such as the last performance review and any disciplinary action taken against you. Other types of evidence that can help you include records of promotions and pay raises, as well as any commendations you received from your employer. Interviewing witnesses like co-workers and members of management can strengthen the evidence collected for a wrongful termination case. Your wrongful termination lawyer also reviews any documents that allege acts of harassment, discrimination, and retaliation.
Before filing a civil lawsuit, your legal counsel tries to negotiate a settlement with your former employer. By sending a demand letter, you let your former employer know that you plan to file a civil lawsuit that asks for compensation. Your former employer can either agree to negotiate a settlement or take your case to trial in front of a civil court judge. One of the most important reasons why you should hire a wrongful termination attorney is to receive legal support during the trial phase of the litigation process.
Finding a Wrongful Termination Attorney
To answer the question, “What does a wrongful termination attorney do,” you first have to find one to represent you. Word-of-mouth recommendations from trusted friends and family members can help you connect with the right legal counsel. If your inner circle fails to recommend a wrongful termination lawyer, expand your network to include neighbors and professional colleagues. Asking an attorney you know for a recommendation might help as well.
You state bar association has a website where you can find a wrongful termination lawyer. State bar association websites typically have a tool called “Find a Lawyer” that allows website visitors to type into the search boxes a few criteria for finding the right wrongful termination attorney. Internet resources such as Lawyers.com and Legalmatch.com also can help you find legal representation.
For more information about how an employment lawyer can help you, submit a free case evaluation.