Suddenly and unexpectedly losing your job can leave you about the future. You’re going to be left struggling to figure out how to make ends meet, and you might worry about how your termination will impact your career. It’s a stressful time for sure, and it might be hard to find another job, especially if your former employer is bound to talk poorly about you if asked.
But even though your employer provided you with a justification for your termination, you shouldn’t take them at their word. Instead, you should analyze the situation to see if you were treated unfairly. After all, if you were wrongfully terminated in violation of the law, then you can take legal action against your former employer to try to recover the compensation that you’re owed.
The employer’s perspective
Of course, employers have their own perspectives in these disputes. They may have had a perfectly valid reason for terminating employment, and a wrongful termination suit may strike them as an unwelcome distraction from a disgruntled former employee.
These employers have the right to defend their positions.
How do you know if you were wrongfully terminated?
Although these cases are very fact-specific, certain signs might be indicative of having been wrongfully terminated. Let’s look at some of them here:
- Your termination was in violation of an existing employment contract: If you were subject to an employment contract, then the terms of employment and termination were likely specified in that agreement. If the justification for your job loss is contrary to the provisions in your contract, then you’ve been wrongfully terminated.
- Evidence shows you were targeted for being in a protected class: If you’re in a protected class of people, such as those who belong to certain races, religions, and genders, then you should be free from employment discrimination. That said, all too often employers make their beliefs about people of a protected class clear through their actions. If you can show that you were terminated from employment simply because of who are and your position in a protected class, then you might be justified in pursuing a wrongful termination claim.
- Others who are not in your protected class were treated differently: Similar to what was mentioned above, you might want to analyze if other employees were treated differently from you and others in your class. If so, then you should take a deeper dive to see if there’s discriminatory intent there and whether that discrimination bled over into the employment decision that negatively impacted you.
- You were fired after filing a complaint: If you’re subjected to discrimination or harassment, you should file a complaint against those who exhibit discriminatory or harassing behaviors. The same holds when it comes to reporting criminal activities in the workplace. And you should feel safe in doing so. But if you lose your job shortly after filing that complaint, then you should consider whether you were retaliated against. You might be able to find that out by scrutinizing internal communications. An attorney can help you get access to those records.
- You were or were recently on FMLA leave: Most workers can take time off to recover from a medical condition, care for an ailing loved one, or welcome a new child into their family. If you were fired while on leave or shortly after coming back from leave, you should ask whether your leave was a triggering event for the adverse employment decision taken against you.
Workers have rights under the law. If you want to protect them, then you need to be prepared to take legal action when your employer tramples on those rights. That may be the only way to find accountability and recover the compensation that you deserve. That’s why now may be the time to act on your case.