Wrongful termination can have severe consequences on employees and their families. Employers who violate employment law should be held accountable for their egregious actions.
Proving Wrongful Termination
The first step in proving a wrongful termination is to determine the circumstances and facts of your firing. Wrongful termination occurs when someone protected by state or federal law is fired by their employer.
But how do you know if you are protected? Since Florida is an “at-will” state, that means that an employer can fire you for any reason for no reason at all — as long as the reason is not an unlawful reason.
Wrongful termination may result from:
- Workers’ Compensation Retaliation Claim Filing
- Hostile Work Environments Tolerating Sexual Harassment
- Age Discrimination
- Race Discrimination
- Wage and Hour Disputes
- Unpaid Overtime
- Family and Medical Leave
- Pregnancy Discrimination
- Religious Discrimination
If you were fired due to one of the above situations, you have the right to file a lawsuit against your employer. Proving wrongful termination takes expertise and skill, but there are certain things you can do in conjunction with an attorney to support a wrongful termination case.
Find and Collect Employment Documentation and Related Materials
Documentation carries a lot of weight in a wrongful termination case. Here are examples of documents and related materials to find and collect:
- Employee handbook and employment policies
- Personnel file and job evaluations/reviews
- Employee contract/agreements or union contracts
- Pay stubs and schedules
- Termination notices or written documentation of any verbal conversations regarding you employment status
- Related electronic communication such as emails, texts, or voicemails
In addition to these, depending on the situation surrounding your firing, you may have other critical information that can serve as documentation. For example, if you believe you were fired due to discrimination or harassment, details of what actions were taken and what words were said should be documented, including:
- who was involved (manager, supervisor, etc.),
- what occurred,
- when it occurred,
- where it occurred, and
- if there were any witnesses
If you did not document it when it occurred, it is important to do that as soon as possible with as much detail as you can include.
Relevant media may also be utilized in building a strong case. For example, if your boss was sending you inappropriate images of a sexual nature by text or email, or a supervisor sent offensive images or words that could be considered racist, ageist, ableist, sexist, or discriminatory against your religion – all of these could be relevant.
Document What Happened When You Were Fired
If you have not done this already, it is important to do this as soon as possible. Information that could be helpful includes a detailed timeline of what happened, which is recommended for any reason for wrongful termination. For example, if your boss started complaining about you being pregnant early in a pregnancy, this would be important if you have been fired.
Did you receive a termination letter? Document what happened before its delivery. If you were fired face-to-face or by telephone, document as many details as you can regarding the conversation, including what was said, when, and if other individuals were present when it occurred.
If you do not feel that you have enough documentation and related materials for your case, do not panic. You may have (or have access to) more than you think.
There may be circumstantial evidence that could prove to be particularly useful when building a wrongful termination case. For example, inequity in disciplinary measures. If there are three employees who all have the same sales goals, two male and one female, and all of them miss them every month for a particular quarter, but only the female gets reprimanded – this could strengthen a case of sex discrimination. This is just one example of the many different types of evidence that may be used in a case of wrongful termination.
Contact an Employment Law Attorney
It is advised to consult with an employment law attorney on wrongful termination cases. A claim may need to be filed with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) before being able to file a lawsuit against your employer. Strict time limits apply which if not met would result in a loss of your claim. An attorney can guide you through the process and act as your legal advocate from the beginning to the end of your case.
Employee rights attorneys are often asked by employees how to prove wrongful termination and have in-depth knowledge, understanding, and skill in employment law to communicate strategy and the step-by-step processes that they take to hold employers accountable.
Contact Wenzel Fenton Cabassa, PA, today for a free consultation.
Please Note: At the time this article was written, the information contained within it was current based on the prevailing law at the time. Laws and precedents are subject to change, so this information may not be up to date. Always speak with a law firm regarding any legal situation to get the most current information available.