Your employer recently fired you. Right now, you are reeling: You do not know where to turn, and you do not know how you will pay your bills or buy gifts for the upcoming holiday season. You believe that your employer may have wrongfully terminated—but you do not know for sure. So, how can you know whether your employer fired you for unlawful reasons?
Defining wrongful termination
Wrongful termination does not simply mean that your supervisor fires you for a reason that you feel is unfair. It is a legal term that refers to an employer firing an employee in violation of the law. There are a few indicators of wrongful termination:
- EEOC protected classes
The Equal Employment Opportunities Commission makes it illegal to fire someone based on their age, race, gender, nation of origin, religion or disability. If your employer has fired you because you because of any of these criteria, then you may have a case on your hands.
- Employment contracts
Many employers have employees sign an employment contract upon hiring. Your employer must abide by the terms of this contract—even when firing you. If they do not, then you may have legal recourse.
- Union laws
If you belong to a union, your employer cannot violate collective bargaining laws in firing you. You are protected by certain labor laws: An employer that disregards these laws may be liable for damages for wrongful termination.
Finally, your employer can’t legally fire you because you have reported a compliance violation, filing a complaint or a claim or reporting discrimination. This is called retaliation, and it is against the law.
If you believe that your employer fired you for any of the above reasons, then you may have experienced wrongful termination. An employment attorney can help determine whether you have grounds for a legal case.