The modern-day workplace has undergone a seismic shift in technology and design over the past few years. These advances have allowed workers to do their jobs more conveniently and efficiently.
Moreover, since companies have acknowledged that the happiness and satisfaction of their staff directly affect their productivity and performance, employees have started to enjoy more comprehensive benefits and flexible working hours. Organizations worldwide are also taking crucial steps to embrace and promote diversity and inclusion.
However, despite all these significant improvements, individuals can still be treated unfairly in the workplace. Accordingly, as an employee, you may encounter unfavorable circumstances and events. One prominent example is being a victim of unlawful termination.
In this article, we will discuss how you can spot indicators of illegal termination. By arming yourself with the right information, you will be able to protect your rights better.
Clear Signs You Were Wrongfully Terminated
Although it is difficult to provide an accurate number of wrongful termination cases that occur, experts believe that about 250,000 people are illegally fired each year worldwide. Of course, there are also illegal terminations that are not reported by some workers, as well as employees who may not have known that their rights have been violated by their employers.
Still, the estimated figure gives us an idea of just how prevalent and notorious this problem is, despite the efforts of the justice systems and workplaces to prevent it. With that said, here are some examples of wrongful termination.
#1. If Your Contract Is Violated
Contracts are designed to safeguard your tenure in the company that hired you. It specifically outlines and showcases your duties and responsibilities, the work benefits you are entitled to, and your salary, as well as the regulations of the company that hired you. It also serves as the official start of the employee-employer relationship as you sign along its dotted lines.
Hence, it is crucial for you to thoroughly read the content of your employment contract so you can raise questions and clarifications regarding the provisions in the document. By doing so, you can effectively protect yourself if things go out of hand in the future.
If you signed a contract, your employer must abide by its terms no matter what. Besides, although contract signing is typically the norm, be wary of verbal agreements since most are also considered legally binding. To be on the safe side, check if any of the verbal agreements are detailed in the contract.
Plus, you should make sure that you have a copy of your signed contract or insist on being provided with one if your employer hasn’t already. So, if your agreement includes your employment timeframe and you were fired before the said date without any provocations or violations, then you may file a case for illegal termination.
However, if you are working in California, be aware of the “at-will” employment status, meaning employers can terminate employees anytime they want without reason. But, there are always some exceptions to the rule, such as firing after inducement, retaliatory discharge, and more. Thus, be sure to determine all factors involved in your case.
#2. If You Are A Victim Of Workplace Discrimination
We all know that workplace discrimination is also very notorious. Moreover, discrimination and illegal termination can often come hand-in-hand.
Unfortunately, no one is exempted from experiencing workplace discrimination. It includes any kind of unfair or hateful treatment you receive from your employer, senior employees, or colleagues who may be triggered by their own biases and prejudices against personal attributes.
Here are several protected classes recognized by federal and state law: age (40 or older), skin color, race, sex, religion, disability, and gender identity.
If your employer subjected you to termination because they received feedback that some customers or fellow employees feel endangered by or uncomfortable because of your skin color or religion, this is definitely a case of wrongful termination.
With that, clearly, your employer expresses racism or prejudiced views towards you and the people who may look like you, which resulted in you being fired illegally.
#3. If Your Boss Retaliated Against You
Another typical example is retaliation that can motivate illegal termination. Retaliation means to fire an employee for pursuing a legally protected activity.
This can also be related to workplace discrimination—for instance, if an employer terminates a disabled employee for simply requesting reasonable accommodation and gets fired as a consequence. But remember, discrimination doesn’t always have to be a factor.
Also, your employer is not allowed to terminate you if you are doing your jury duty or voting. Your employer also can’t sack you for requesting a family or medical leave request. Furthermore, if you have been terminated for whistleblowing or reporting illegal actions committed by your employer to the authorities, you can file a winnable case against the company.
Here are other examples of situations of retaliation in wrongful termination claims:
- Getting terminated for whistleblowing about unsafe practices or illegal engagement to a government authority
- Getting terminated for demanding proper compensation for unpaid overtime hours
- Being terminated for refusing to join in or conduct an illegal activity
Proving An Illegal Termination Case
If you believe that you were terminated because of one of the reasons listed above, you must gather all necessary employment documents related to your case. This includes your employment contract, performance evaluation, and employee handbook.
If applicable, you may also have to prove that you are under a protected class, and your employer did not abide by the contract provisions or does not have legal grounds to terminate you.
Thereby, if you think your employer terminated you illegally, it is crucial to consult with an experienced employment lawyer as soon as possible. A legal expert can help you prove that your termination was wrongfully committed due to a breach of contract, discrimination, or retaliation.
Moreover, it’s important to keep yourself well-informed of your legal rights as an employee. When you are sufficiently aware of what you are entitled to, you will be able to protect yourself from any action that violates or threatens your rights.