You have been trying your best to meet your monthly quota, but the last two months have been hard. So, your boss summons you to his office, and you cannot shake the bad feeling that you are about to be fired. Your suspicions are right, and as you clear your desk of your few personal items, you feel sorry for yourself for losing your only source of income.
Then again, you look around and realize that you are the only employee being terminated, yet you overheard two of your colleagues say they had never met their quotas for the past five months. It dawns on you that you had recently voiced your concerns about sexual harassment after rebuffing your superior’s sexual advances.
As you wrap your head around what is happening, you wonder if you have cause for wrongful termination. Read on to find out the instances that might require seeking the help of a wrongful termination lawyer.
Breach of Contract
Most employees do not bother reading their employment contract, yet it stipulates the circumstances under which your employer should fire you. Therefore, if it clearly states that you can only be fired for poor performance, your company should not fire you for any gross misconduct.
However, if you signed an at-will employment agreement, it means that the employer can fire you, even without a reason that is not illegal. You can also quit whenever you please. In such a case, you cannot have a lawyer argue your case for you.
There are acceptable instances when a boss is allowed to treat a group of employees differently from the rest, such as rewarding them for a job well done. However, some scenarios are unacceptable hence the term “differential treatment.” It means that your employer treats a particular group of people differently because of attributes they cannot change, such as skin color, religion, age, sexual orientation, or disability.
Usually, a single incident can make it hard for your employment lawyer to prove that you have been wrongfully terminated under differential treatment reasons. However, if the attorney can show a pattern that supports your case by establishing that the firing was under pretext, you are likely to get compensation. Pretext refers to the cover that your employer uses to fire you wrongfully.
Revenge is a dish served best served cold, but you have every right to sue your boss when it happens in the workplace. You might have noticed something suspicious going on in your company and blown the whistle. As a result, your boss decided to terminate you for putting the company in the limelight for the wrong reasons. Such firing is referred to as retaliatory discharge, and you are protected by law if you reported illegal activities in the company or participated in an investigation.
It will be up to your employment lawyer to prove through direct or circumstantial evidence that you were engaging in a protected activity and that the termination was punishment for your participation. Direct evidence is a verbal or written statement showing that the firing and protected activity are connected. Circumstantial evidence implies a connection between the discharge and the employee’s conduct.
Even if you were hired at-will, your employer still needs a valid reason to fire you. Sometimes, employers do not have any, so they make up stories that tarnish your name, and you end up unable to find work after you are discharged. Such false rumors are defamatory, and you can sue your employer for spreading them.
However, for it to be defamation, your employment lawyer must prove that the statement is false. The defamation could be verbal, referred to as slander, or in written form, which is considered libel. Whether oral or written, it should have been seen or heard by another person besides you, and the employer must have intended to harm you.
Constructive dismissal is when you are forced to resign because the employer has created an environment that makes it hard for you to do your job effectively. Although voluntary, it is still regarded as dismissal because the employer gives you no alternative.
However, your lawyer must prove that the working environment was so adverse that no rational employee would gladly remain in employment. The attorney must also show that your employer knew of the harsh working conditions and intended for you to resign.
No matter how well you have documented everything leading up to your wrongful dismissal unless you hire an experienced employment lawyer to argue your case, you are not likely to get the justice you deserve. At HKM Employment Attorneys, we represent all employees, regardless of the industry they work in or their employment level.
Our practice areas include wrongful termination, breach of contract, discrimination, retaliation, and whistle blower claims, among many more. Schedule a visit or call us today and let us iron out any employment issues you may have.