Losing your job for reasons you don’t deserve is one of the most stressful experiences you can face. Without a consistent paycheck, paying bills, putting food on the table, and caring for children suddenly becomes overwhelming and frightening. Not to mention, being fired from a job can negatively affect your future career prospects. So, where do you turn from here?
If you have been illegally fired from your job, don’t give up hope. Know your rights and prioritize finding a skilled wrongful termination lawyer to help your case as soon as possible. The best employment attorneys will help you move forward and win the damages you deserve. Let’s take a look at common wrongful termination scenarios and what to look for in a lawyer.
What Is Wrongful Termination?
Most employment is considered “at-will,” meaning the employer can terminate anyone’s employment at their discretion. Under these terms, there doesn’t need to be a “good” reason for the termination, and the employee doesn’t need to be given advanced notice. However, even with at-will termination in place, there are legal exceptions.
Wrongful termination occurs when an employer fires a worker for discriminatory reasons protected by local, state, or federal law. Additionally, an employer may not terminate an employee in violation of a contract or in retaliation for reporting illegal activity, as this would be unlawful and considered wrongful discharge. Let’s explore the three main instances of wrongful termination.
Discriminating against employees in the workplace based on certain identifying factors is illegal under federal law. Discriminatory acts can include harsh language, withholding promotional opportunities or benefits, pay disparity, unfair treatment, and more. While discrimination in the workplace is a legal case in and of itself, firing an employee because of discrimination is considered wrongful termination.
If you were fired due to any of the following common instances of workplace discrimination, you likely have a wrongful termination case on your hands.
- Race, ethnicity, or color
- Gender or gender identity
- Sexual orientation
- Political affiliation
- Mental illness
Additionally, if you faced an instance of quid pro quo harassment where your employer fired you because you did not engage in a sexual act, reach out to a wrongful termination lawyer immediately.
Breach of Contract
While breach of contract is not as common as workplace discrimination, it does still occur. Wrongful termination from breach of contract happens when an employer fires a worker against the terms of a signed contract. If a contract states that the employee will be working for the organization for a certain period of time, the employer is bound to that agreement.
Typically, employment contracts will state reasons for potential discharge. If you were fired for a reason not included in your contract, you are facing an instance of wrongful termination from breach of contract.
Retaliation and Whistleblowing
Another common sign of wrongful discharge is illegal retaliation. Unfortunately, many employees have been retaliated against and unlawfully terminated for reporting workplace issues, such as:
- Health or safety violations
- Wage infringements
- Workers’ compensation violations
- Filing false tax returns
- Shareholder fraud
Federal whistleblowing laws protect employees from retaliation for reporting illegal activities in the workplace. However, many employers break this law and fire workers who report unlawful practices. If you were fired for reporting workplace discrimination, health violations, or any other illegal activity, seek legal counsel to help your case.
5 Traits of a Great Wrongful Termination Lawyer
If you have a wrongful termination case on your hands, it is vital to partner with a knowledgeable attorney to increase your chances of winning your case. An employment lawyer will help you get back on your feet after losing your job by assisting you with all legal proceedings. In order to win the maximum amount of damages you deserve, you will need to work with the best lawyer you can find. When hiring a wrongful termination lawyer, look for the following characteristics:
1. Experience in the Field
There are many different practice areas of law, and employment law is one of the more niche sectors. When dealing with wrongful termination, you don’t want to work with a lawyer who has most of their experience in family law or injury law. Prioritize collaborating with an attorney who has multiple years of experience specifically dealing with wrongful termination.
When you partner with an experienced employment lawyer, you maximize your chances of winning your case. Your lawyer will have the expertise to handle the necessary paperwork and courtroom proceedings.
Being wrongfully discharged is a vulnerable and upsetting experience. The last thing you want is to work with a lawyer who is cold or unsympathetic towards your situation. In your search for a wrongful termination lawyer, look for an attorney who is also an advocate.
An advocate attorney will empathize with your situation and be passionate about fighting on behalf of your unique scenario.
3. Effective Communication Skills
Legal proceedings can be stressful and confusing to many people. When you meet with a lawyer for the first time, note how well they explain the details of your case and answer questions. If you leave feeling more confused than when you came in, you’re probably better off finding a different attorney. A helpful trait of a great employment lawyer is when they can communicate your case to you in a language that is easy to understand.
Having confidence in your lawyer is essential. You don’t want to face your former employer in court feeling uncertain about your attorney’s plan of attack. Look for an employment lawyer who has solid preparation. Your attorney should be prepared to handle details, such as:
- Calls with you
- Communication with third parties
- Correspondences with the court in person and in writing
- Interactions with opposing counsel
- Knowing the facts of your case
- Ensuring your file is appropriately staffed
5. Availability and Responsiveness
Your wrongful termination case deserves to be a priority. It can be incredibly frustrating to be left waiting for an answer to a question for days. It is not only reasonable but necessary to expect timely and responsive communication from your lawyer. Look for an employment lawyer who will prioritize responding to your questions and giving you reasonable notice about issues that require your attention.
A Skilled Employment Lawyer Makes All the Difference
If you dealt with wrongful termination, it is necessary to work with a lawyer to maximize your chances of receiving damages. Whether you were illegally discharged because of discrimination, breach of contract, or retaliation, you need legal counsel on your side. The best employment lawyer for your case will be experienced, empathetic, communicative, prepared, and responsive.
MJSB Employment Justice is proud to be an experienced legal firm specializing in employment law and advocacy in Minnesota. If you’re facing a wrongful termination case, you can trust our team to get you back on your feet and win you the compensation you deserve. Contact us today to set up a consultation.