How an Experienced Attorney Can Help You After a Wrongful Termination
Most states consider employment to be “at will,” allowing an employer to terminate employment at any time for any reason, but there are still situations where your employer’s decision to fire you can serve as the basis for a wrongful termination lawsuit. Even in at-will employment states, an employer may not fire you if doing so would violate the terms of a valid employment contract or would violate law or public policy. If you lose your job and believe that the termination of your employment was illegal, you want an experienced employment lawyer, one who has experience successfully handling wrongful discharge claims.
What Will a Proven Wrongful Termination Lawyer Do for You?
An experienced wrongful discharge attorney will know how to assess the facts of your case and determine whether your employer’s conduct provides a basis for legal action. Specifically, your lawyer will:
- Evaluate whether your employer breached a valid employment contract by terminating you
- Identify any ways that your discharge violated state or federal law
- Determine if your firing was contrary to public policy
Violation of an Express or Implied Employment Contract
If your employment is governed by a written employment agreement, your employer may not terminate your employment in ways that violate the terms of that contract. Your attorney will understand the language of your contract and be able to ascertain whether your discharge violates any provisions of your agreement.
It’s possible to have a valid wrongful termination claim even in situations where there is no written employment agreement. Under certain circumstances, a valid employment contract can be implied:
- Courts in most states have held that an employee policy manual or handbook can create an implied contract, if it promises continued employment in the absence of any violation of policy.
- Oral statements by an employer can create an implied employment agreement, including statements such as “you perform well and will always have a job here.”
Violation of Law or Public Policy
An experienced and knowledgeable employment lawyer can also recognize when your employer’s actions are contrary to law or public policy. For example, there are myriad state and federal statutes prohibiting termination of workers based on certain characteristics, including, but not limited to:
- Race—Title VII of the Civil Rights Act
- Gender—Title VII of the Civil Rights Act
- Disability—The Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA)
- Age—The Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA)
There are also situations where the employer’s conduct does not violate a specific statute but is contrary to public policy. An experienced wrongful termination attorney can help you pursue damages if, for example, you’re fired for refusing to commit an illegal act or for reporting illegal or unethical conduct by your employer.
If you’re fired from your job and believe that your termination violated the law, you want an experienced employment attorney to protect your rights. Your lawyer can review the terms of your employment contract, if applicable, or determine if there was an implied promise of continued employment based on employer statements, employee handbooks, or policy manuals. A knowledgeable wrongful termination lawyer can also recognize whether your termination violated state or federal law or was contrary to public policy, thereby giving you a right to file a legal claim for wrongful discharge.