A wrongful termination case is an expansive topic. That’s why it’s so often misunderstood even by lawyers who do not regularly practice in this particular area of law. It can involve a discrimination claim or wrongful job status classification, retaliation for filing workers’ compensation claims, whistleblower activities and even refusing to participate in an illegal action.
If you’ve been terminated recently or have suffered because of an adverse employment action, such as a demotion, failure to be promoted, involuntary job switch, or being left out of career critical meetings and cut off from receiving information required to perform your job well, you may have a wrongful termination case. Here are several examples of cases of wrongful termination.
If you are protected under the Family & Medical Leave Act and your employer terminates you while you’re on approved leave because you exercised your rights to take leave, you may have a wrongful termination case.
You may also have a case if you were demoted, placed on a performance improvement plan for no reason, or returned to a new job that was not equivalent to your previous position. Your job does not need to be held open for you when you’re gone but a similar one must be available when you return. While this is not technically “termination” it is still worth discussing with an employee rights attorney.
However, being on FMLA leave doesn’t give you a pass to do whatever you please. You can always be terminated for reasons unrelated to the leave such as poor job performance, or for no reason as long as the termination is not because you took FMLA leave.
You Turned in Co-workers for Doing Something Illegal
If you provided evidence or blew the whistle on co-workers who were doing something illegal or fraudulent acting in their capacity as employees of your employer and you were then terminated, you may have a wrongful termination suit. For instance, if you report that your supervisor is submitting false claims to Medicare, or the employer is dumping chemicals in the swamp behind the office, or the accounting department is issuing false reports to its shareholders and government agencies, you may have a whistleblower action.
You Were Terminated Because of an Inferred Ethnicity
Some employees assume that if they’ve worked for a company for a long time and are then terminated, that it can’t be discriminatory based on something like race or gender since the employer would’ve known these things from the start. However, that is not always the case. Sometimes new management takes over or imagine this scenario:
Even though you’ve worked for the company for several months, no one has met your spouse. You attend the company holiday party with your spouse who is physically identified as a particular race or wearing an obvious form of religious garb. The employer may never have thought of you as that race or religion, until they saw your spouse. Now you’ve been terminated. You may have a case for wrongful termination based on discrimination.
You Have a Written Contract and You Were Terminated for Causes Not Specified
You Were Terminated for Serving National Guard Time
Terminating someone as they perform service to the country by honoring their National Guard commitment is a violation of public policy and Federal law. If this is the reason for your termination, you need to speak with an employee rights attorney.
Wrongful termination is one of those broad areas that is difficult to understand because there are many fact situations which may give rise to a wrongful termination claim. Working in an employment at-will state does not mean you’re unprotected in the eyes of the law. Your termination may have been against the law.
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