What to Do When You Get Fired Unfairly
If you’ve recently been laid off or fired from your job, you may be thinking, what’s next?
The answer depends on the circumstances and reasons behind your termination. You could file for unemployment benefits and start looking for a new job. But if you've been wrongfully terminated from your position, you could have a legal claim or lawsuit for lost wages and other damages you've suffered as a result of losing your job.
In addition, you also have the right to get your full wages on time as required under the law. For example, if you are involuntarily terminated by an employer, your employer must give you your final paycheck immediately upon your termination. If your company has failed to pay your proper wages in full, you could file a claim for wage theft.
The statute of limitations for filing an employment lawsuit for wrongful termination or wage theft is typically 1 year — however, it can be longer for certain types of cases. It’s important to talk to an attorney about what the statute of limitations is for your specific claim, as these limitations vary on a case-by-case basis.
To ensure that your rights are properly protected, don’t wait to speak to a lawyer. Call (800) 501-3011 now for a FREE consultation.
What Is Wrongful Termination?
Wrongful termination is defined as the act of firing or laying off an employee for an illegal reason. While an employee may be fired, the classification of “wrongful” must be justified by the breach of a protected class.
Federal law protects employees from being fired:
- For asserting their legally protected rights in the workplace,
- Because of unlawful discrimination based on age, sex, race, religion, disability, or any other legally protected characteristic,
- For reporting sexual harassment or a toxic or hostile work environment,
- In violation of an existing employment agreement,
- As a form of retaliation for filing a workplace complaint with HR,
- In violation of any collective bargaining or union agreements or laws, or
- In violation of any applicable local, state, or federal laws.
The impact of wrongful termination on the lives of employees is hard to overstate. Illegally fired employees can suffer from depression, anxiety, financial stress, and career setbacks. If your employer fired you in bad faith, they may lie about your work performance and try to blame their decision on your work output. This could affect your professional reputation and your ability to find future work in your field, especially if your employer is a big industry player.
If you’ve been wrongfully terminated from a company, you may not be the only one. This is especially true if a business suffers from a toxic work environment, where bad behavior is not only tolerated but even encouraged as a part of company culture.
Many workers are intimidated by the thought of challenging their employers in a court of law, especially large corporations with deep pockets and lawyers on staff. Some employees may not even realize how much the law actually protects them. Employers that act in bad faith bet on their workers not realizing the power of their rights. But the law is on your side – and you can level the playing field by hiring an experienced employment lawyer for your case.
Is It Hard to Prove Wrongful Termination?
Proving wrongful termination isn't usually easy. This is because employers rarely communicate the real reasons behind an illegal firing since they know that will get them in trouble. Instead, your company may try to blame you for losing your job by lying on your performance reports or making other false allegations.
A knowledgeable employment lawyer can spot the tricks companies use to cover their tracks. Your attorney can help gather the evidence you need to back up your case.
How Do You Prove Wrongful Termination?
Wrongful termination cases are fact-specific. The outcome depends on the unique details of your case. The best way to prove your case is to gather as much evidence as you can.
Evidence of wrongful termination may include:
- Emails, instant messages, written statements, documents, or other communications
- A history of performance reports showing that you were a good employee
- Witness testimony backing up any verbal statements that may have been made
- Records of any reports you filed with your manager, HR, or the government
- Circumstantial evidence that demonstrates a company’s patterns, biases, or culture
- Proof that your company refused to follow their own employee protection policies
Gathering all of that evidence can be tricky, especially if you’ve been removed from your job along with your access to company documents. You may no longer have the ability to log in to your company email address. If your employer has been acting in bad faith, they’re not likely to cooperate with your requests to get the evidence you need to sue them.
An employment lawyer can help you get a court to subpoena the relevant documents you need from your company, even if they refuse to disclose the information voluntarily.
Can You Sue for Wrongful Termination?
A lawsuit can help you get monetary compensation for the income you’ve missed as well as any extra costs you’ve incurred because of losing your job (such as the expense of looking for a new job). You could even receive damages for the mental anguish you’ve experienced.
Additionally, on the federal level, you can file a claim with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) if you think you were fired because of harassment or discrimination. Some states have even greater employee protections. In those states, you could file a wrongful termination claim with a state agency. But your best strategy may be to file an employment lawsuit in civil court against your employer for wrongful termination and lost wages.
How Much Can You Get in a Wrongful Termination Lawsuit?
Successful wrongful termination cases could end in a settlement or judgment paying the victim to “make them whole” for the losses they’ve suffered as a result of their company’s actions.
Because each case is different, there is no standard amount of compensation that is awarded in wrongful termination cases. The total will depend on the damages you suffered and the specific circumstances of your case. Cases with blatant discrimination or patterns of sexual harassment where company leadership fostered a hostile working environment could pay out even more for the victim.
At the Wilshire Law Firm, our top-rated employment lawyers fight for employees to get the MAXIMUM possible payout for the injustices they’ve had to suffer in the workplace. We take our cases on a contingency-fee basis, which means you don’t have to worry about paying any legal fees unless we win your case for you.