You’ve been let go from your job. You don’t feel satisfied with the reason given. Now, you’re wondering: what can you do about this?
Fortunately, there is some recourse when it comes to wrongful termination. Wondering what you can do to receive justice? Then read on. This blog post has all the information you need.
What Is Wrongful Termination?
First and foremost, we’re going to describe what wrongful termination actually is. Wrongful termination is when an employer fires an employee for illegal reasons, or when an employer lets an employee go without honoring the terms of his or her contract.
Note, employers generally don’t need a reason to fire someone. The United States does not require such. However, if the firing was based on some form of prejudice, or if it broke the rules laid out in the agreed-upon contract, you would have a legitimate cause to file suit.
Curious as to what prejudice means in this situation? It can include anything from racism to sexism to ageism to homophobia to xenophobia and the like.
Other factors that can play into a wrongful termination case include defamation, a hostile work environment, a violation of public policy, and acts of retaliation. Each situation is different, with some calling for a legitimate wrongful termination case and others failing to meet the criteria.
Regardless, if you feel you’ve been wrongfully terminated, you’re advised to call a lawyer. He or she can go over your case with you and determine whether it’s worth filing a suit.
What to Do If You’ve Been Wrongfully Terminated
Now that we’ve discussed the definition of wrongful termination, you might be wondering what you can do if you’ve been wrongfully terminated. The exact steps can vary, but, in general, you should do the following.
First and foremost, if you’ve been wrongfully terminated, you’re going to want to read up on both federal guidelines and legal recourse in your state. Each state has different laws regarding the matter, and you’re going to want to get a good grasp on what your particular state’s laws entail.
For federal information, browse the U.S. Department of Labor website. For state information, take a look at your state’s Labor Department website. This is as simple as Googling “Colorado Labor Department wrongful termination”, for instance.
Hire a Lawyer
If you’ve read up on your state’s laws, and you’re satisfied that you have, indeed, been wrongfully terminated, you’re advised to hire a lawyer. Combating wrongful termination can be complex, and you’re going to want to have a seasoned legal professional on your side to help guide you through.
Note, this is not the time to hire a generalist. The key is to find a lawyer who specializes in employment law. Lawyers with specialties in employment law will know everything there is to know about wrongful termination in their respective states.
How do you go about finding such a lawyer? The simplest solution is to just type “employment lawyer [name of your location]” into Google. This will return an array of such lawyers, complete with reviews and star ratings.
What Are the Advantages of Fighting Wrongful Termination?
We’ve discussed what to do if you were wrongfully terminated. However, you might be wondering: is it really worth it? What are the advantages of fighting wrongful termination?
Depending on the circumstances, they can actually be fairly substantial. We’ll cover the primary benefits below.
Potential to Receive Back Pay
One of the reasons to fight wrongful termination is that you’ll have the potential to receive back pay. Back pay is the amount of pay and benefits that you would receive from the day you were fired until the day your judgment is passed. So, if you were fired 2 months ago, and your wrongful termination judgment was passed today, you would receive 2 months worth of payment and benefits.
Back pay is generally given in the event that you’re welcomed back to your job. If you’re not welcomed back, you’re more apt to receive front pay.
Potential to Receive Front Pay
Another reason to fight wrongful termination is that you have the potential to receive front pay (as was mentioned above). Front pay is money and benefits given in lieu of being accepted back to your job. It covers not only the time between the termination and the judgment but a few weeks or months after the judgment as well.
If you’re given your job back, you likely won’t receive front pay, but likely will receive back pay.
Potential to Receive Punitive Damages
In some cases, you might even be able to receive punitive damages. Punitive damages are paid by employers in the event of highly egregious offenses. If the judge deems your termination to be highly egregious, he or she might force your former employer to pay you extra money in addition to front pay or back pay.
Another potential consequence of fighting your wrongful termination is getting your job back. Note, though, that in order for this to happen, you have to want your job back, and your employer has to want you to come back as well.
In some cases, in lieu of having to pay punitive damages, employers will actually hire their fired employees back and give them promotions. This is fairly rare, but it is possible. As such, it’s most certainly worth a go.
Don’t Take Wrongful Termination Lying Down
If you’ve been subject to wrongful termination, you’re advised to take action and receive what is yours. Hire a lawyer, file a suit, and get your hands on the compensation that you so richly deserve.
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