The repercussions of an unexpected firing can be devastating, financially, personally, and professionally. Such an experience can be made much more stressful if you feel that your termination breached your contract or was even unlawful. If you feel like this applies to your dismissal, you needn’t just accept it and move on, however. Here are 3 tips for when you feel you’ve been terminated from your job unfairly.
If you feel strongly that your dismissal was unlawful, you should contact a lawyer as quickly as possible, as such claims often have very short statutes of limitations. Search “employment lawyers near me” for a good idea of what labor attorneys are available in your area.
Discuss the Issue with Your Employer Directly
Emotions can naturally run very high when you feel you’ve been unfairly fired, but dealing with your employer in a combative manner can not only make the situation more stressful, but can also hinder any legal claim you may make later. It’s therefore more sensible to instead professionally discuss the reason for your firing with your employer and request any documentation pertaining to your dismissal, such as performance reviews and memos.
While it is unlikely that discussing the termination civilly with your employer will end up in your reemployment, requesting the pertinent information to your firing will provide you with some strong evidence if it turns out your dismissal was unlawful. If your employer is not being forthcoming with these documents, you can always have an employment attorney demand them later, if you choose to pursue the claim.
Check the Details of Your Contract
Unfortunately, it is the case that nearly all states in the U.S. have an “at-will” presumption in employment law. This means that, unlike in most other countries, employers can legally dismiss employees without giving a specific reason or cause. Therefore, unless your dismissal falls under the narrow category of a few statutory and common law exemptions, the most common grounds for wrongful terminations are when you can prove a breach of your employment contract.
As a result, the next step you should take should be to check the fine details of your employment contract, to see if there is a chance your employer has breached it. For example, it is common to find that long-term employment contracts have a clause where the employer must give a specific reason for dismissal.
Quickly Consult a Lawyer
Although U.S. law can make it quite difficult to sue an employer for wrongful dismissal, there are still a number of situations where a termination can be unlawful. In federal law, it is illegal to terminate employees for reasons of discrimination, for example. In addition, there are several common law exemptions to the at-will presumption, including if you were fired for refusing to commit an illegal act, or if it was implied to you that you would only ever be fired for a specific reason (known as implied contract).
If you still feel that your termination was unlawful after checking your contract, you should therefore contact a law firm for advice as soon as possible. Hiring a legal expert can thus easily determine whether it is likely that you have a case.