Termination never feels fair. No matter how long you worked at a job, and no matter how difficult the job was, being let go can leave you feeling lost and frustrated. Consider the difficulties of paying your rent or mortgage, or even just buying your groceries when your income dries up.
There’s only so much that unemployment checks can cover, and you’re going to need a new job eventually. But what can you do if your former employers won’t vouch for you as a professional reference, and how can you get a new job if your former employers fired you illegally?
Most Employment is At-Will
Your employers have the right to fire you whenever they like. At-will employment means that you can leave whenever you’d like, and your employers can let you go whenever they would like. But your termination needs to happen for legitimate reasons.
Being fired can be frustrating, stressful, and overwhelming. It’s completely normal to feel that your termination was wrongful, but before you decide to file a lawsuit, you need to understand that not every termination actually is wrongful. If you’re struggling to pay your bills or you need your job to make ends meet, it doesn’t count as wrongful termination. Instead, a wrongful termination needs to satisfy certain requirements.
Discrimination means Wrongful Termination
If you want a wrongful termination lawsuit to stick, you need to prove you were fired for illegal reasons. One of the most common examples of wrongful termination is discrimination. If you can prove you were fired on account of the color of your skin, your sexual orientation, your religion, or any other basis related to your person, you might have a wrongful termination suit on your hands.
Your Contract is Important
Breaches of contract are also grounds for a wrongful termination suit. When you sign a contract with an employer, you’re both agreeing on an exchange of goods and services. If your employer tries to fire you without paying you what you’re owed (or living up to anything else they agreed to in the contract) you may be able to sue them for breach of contract.
Doing the Right Thing Sometimes Means Retaliation
You don’t have to do anything illegal on the job. No matter how pressured you might feel when you’re working, illegal activity is inexcusable. In fact, if you actually do go through with any illegal activity your employer requested, there’s a chance you could be tried as an accomplice should the aforementioned illegal activity finally come to light. Additionally, your employer has ammunition should he or she feel like blackmailing you into doing more illegal work – or worse.
If you call out your employer for illegal or unethical practices, you’re stepping up and doing the right thing. But that doesn’t meant they’ll let it slide. If an employer breaks the law, they probably won’t have any misgivings about firing a whistleblower. Fortunately, you can turn to an employment litigation lawyer to get the help you need if you’re facing a wrongful termination.