When a person loses his or her job, it can be devastating financially and emotionally. In situations where the employee is fired or laid off for an illegal reason, it is called wrongful termination and there is useful information available about steps the employee can take to address it.
Wrongful termination occurs when an employee is fired or laid off in violation of anti-discrimination laws, oral or written employment agreements, labor laws or in retaliation for filing a complaint or claim against the employer, among other reasons. The employee cannot be fired or laid off on the basis of race, gender, ethnic background, religion or disability.
Employees are also protected against employer retaliation for reporting the employer’s illegal or unethical acts. Also, employees cannot be fired or retaliated against for taking time off for protected activities, such as leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act, to vote or serve on a jury, for example.
If the employee is wrongfully terminated, it’s helpful for him or her to contact an employment rights attorney who can review the employer’s agreements with the employee, if applicable, and severance package offers, request to review his or her personnel file and inquire about the reasons for the termination.
The employee may also want to document the circumstances of the firing or layoff, including keeping their own notes of the date, time, location and any other people who were present.
He or she may be entitled to damages for wrongful termination. These may include back pay, promotion, job reinstatement, reasonable accommodations, injunctive relief and punitive damages. An experienced attorney can review the circumstances and provide representation to wrongfully terminated employees.