It sucks. Regardless of circumstances, losing a job can be by far the most stressful event in your life. The negative impact of termination would have a compounding effect if the events leading to the dismissal made you feel inadequate, uncomfortable, and confused. You know when you just have that nagging stomach feeling, called intuition, when you know things are just not right.
The post will help you to learn three key things:
- What is wrongful termination
- What are the signs of unfair dismissal
- Next steps to take if you feel you were treated unfairly
So, let`s get started and learn more together.
What is Wrongful Termination?
Wrongful Termination – Is illegal dismissal in the eyes of the law, such as violating an employment agreement, local policies, federal or state law. For instance, firing someone over their religious beliefs or country of origin would violate federal civil rights law. Wrongful termination is also called wrongful discharge, wrongful firing, wrongful dismissal, illegal discharge, illegal termination, and illegal dismissal (Legal Information Institute).
Signs of Unfair Dismissal
- One of the most common forms of wrongful dismissal is based on federally protected categories such as race, color, national origin, sex, religion, disability, pregnancy, and age meets the definition of wrongful termination.
- Several states and localities also prohibit employment discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. (Credit: Find Law)
- Does the employer only lays off or hires people of a certain color, ethnicity such as all employees are Hispanic or only white Caucasian?
- Does Employer tend to promote only senior males to management roles?
- Are similar employees treated differently based on their race, color, national origin, sex, religion, disability, pregnancy, and age?
- Is there a verbal or written evidence of unfair treatment by employer/manager or bias against certain groups of employees?
- An employee cannot be fired for “whistleblowing,” such as filing a complaint with Equal Employment Opportunities Commission (EEOC) reporting harmful, discriminatory, harassing or illegal activities by a company itself or by another employee.
- An employee is being picked on (harassed or bullied) by either other employees or a manager based on poor language skills. The employee decides to file a complaint with EEOC. While EEOC investigates the employer, they fire the foreign employee.
- You work at a manufacturing facility, and part of your job involves checking on certain indicators located on the production floor. Manufacturing involves the use of dyes, harsh chemicals, and exposure to toxic substances.
- Two months into the job, you find out you are expecting a baby. Naturally, you no longer want to be exposed to things that may cause harm to the unborn child, so you discuss the issue with the HR manager, asking to delegate 30 minutes of production floor time to another team member based on changed health status.
- HR manager informs you the request will be denied since it is “your job.”
- You start asking more questions about the nature of chemicals used in manufacturing by contacting an internal EHS (Environmental Health and Safety) manager to understand the risks. He promises to get your results soon. Ten days later, you are terminated, pregnant, and confused about what just happened.
- Federal law prohibits dismissal and harassment based on age, disability, gender, genetic information, national origin, race, religion, sexuality or sex
- An example would be a rude comment by one of your co-workers or managers about your country of origin or birthplace. The situation happens more often than you may think.
- You may wonder, what is the difference between being discriminated and being harassed. Discrimination is treating someone differently because the employee is has a disability, pregnant, a female vs. male, born if a different country, have an accent, has a different religious believes than you, or younger/older than others. When an employer makes decisions based on the biases, that is the essence of discrimination.
- Harassment is simply treating that person unfairly or picking, making rude comments based on bias
- Your manager, the owner of a small auto shop, consistently asks you to work longer hours. Lately, he asked you to start eating lunches at your desk and skip breaks. You live in a state where work breaks and lunch breaks are mandated by law.
- To manage the situation more effectively and avoid aggravating your manager further you pretend you need a bathroom breaks and eat your sandwich over the toilet, scared of losing your job.
- The manager continues asking why you refuse to eat at your desk and is this a “Russian” thing is to take full 30 minutes lunch breaks. You laugh, but inside you are deeply hurt and find the comment rude. After several weeks of battling over launch breaks your manager fires you.
Breach of Employment Contract
- If your employer violated terms of your employment agreement during dismissal or did not follow the rules outlined in the legally binding contract you may have been treated unfairly.
- Depending on the situation, an employer may have an actual written or a verbal employment agreement with a worker. Breaching the agreement may be prohibited by law.
- Research laws in your state, learn more about your rights at Workplace Fairness
- Protect your legal rights and learn more about litigation, click pursue legal action
- Seek free professional legal resources at the American Bar Association
- File a discrimination/harassment complaint at the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission EEOC website
That nagging feeling will not go away, I know, I was there. In fact, I was a victim of wrongful termination by major U.S. companies at least twice. It was scary, embarrassing, and unpleasant. Each unfair dismissal case is different, and in my particular scenario, the juice was not worth the squeeze.
It was a difficult decision, but I concluded the legal battle was not worth the negative publicity, the attorney fees, and the hassle. That said, the wrongful termination scenarios taught me many valuable lessons, about the signs to watch for, about my rights and the actions I could take to make things right again.
Read more posts on the topic:
- What is it really like getting fired in U.S. and 4 actions you need to take soon after termination
- Top 10 reasons for getting fired and tips on how you can avoid issues at work
Disclosure: This website is a free publication made available by Logio Solutions and provides general information related to many facets of employment in the U.S. This website does not provide legal advice and Logio Solutions is not a law firm. We recommend you consult a lawyer if you want legal advice.
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