Federal and state governments have legislation enacted that is intended to protect employees from unscrupulous employers. These laws dictate when, how, and why employers may terminate employees. If you believe that your employer has fired you for reasons that may be illegal, you might be able to file a wrongful termination lawsuit against your former employer.
Even after an employee has been fired, the Department of Labor states that employees have certain rights against their former employers. As an employee, you have the right to maintain your employment without fear of unlawful discrimination, retribution, or termination. Some employees have the right to continue receiving healthcare and unemployment benefits after they have been terminated from a job, but the reasons for termination may play a large role in determining eligibility for these benefits.
Attorneys are charged with protecting the best interests of their clients, and have a duty to use the depositions of an employer’s representatives as a means for getting to the exact circumstances that led to our client’s termination. The following seven questions may be especially critical during the discovery process.
- Has the employee complained about legal issues or working conditions in the company?
An employee has the right to raise valid concerns about safety issues and/or potentially illegal activities within the company. Firing an employee for asking questions about these topics or for making valid complaints could be considered retaliation.
- Did the employee report any harassment directed toward them?
Employees also have the right to work in a discrimination-free environment. If an employee witnesses or receives harassment in the workplace, they have the right to file a report without fear of retaliation.
- Has the employee complained about being discriminated against based on a certain type of legal classification or status?– Employees can be terminated for their actions and their words, but they cannot be terminated solely because of their religion, age, sex, national original, race, or disability.
- Did the employee make any disability or medical accommodation requests?– Disabled persons are entitled to certain accommodations under the Americans with Disabilities Act, and other health- or family-related accommodations may also be protected under company policies or state/federal laws.
- Was the employee on the verge of qualifying for or vesting in company benefits?
Some employers attempt to avoid paying benefits, such as stock ownership or 401k plans, to tenured employees by firing workers before they are eligible to receive these benefits.
- Have other employees been terminated under similar circumstances?
Consistency is important when examining the reasons behind terminations. If other employees have not been terminated for the same infractions, the employer could be liable for wrongful termination.
If you believe that you’ve been terminated for unlawful reasons, you might benefit from hiring a wrongful termination and work injury lawyer. A competent and dependable legal team may be able to collect the answers to these questions — and many others — with the assistance of a highly-skilled court reporting service during depositions. An attorney may be able to help you sort through the details and determine your best course of legal action.