Although wrongful termination seems like a straightforward complaint against your employer, the truth is that there are many protections for employers against wrongful termination claims. In particular, employees must understand that just because a job termination seems unfair doesn’t mean the termination was illegal. This is why you will need to consult with a wrongful termination lawyer to understand your case and receive a settlement.
Why You Shouldn’t Accept a Settlement Without Consulting a Wrongful Termination Law Firm
Regardless of the type of lawsuit you are filing, you should never accept a settlement without first consulting with a lawyer. When you accept a settlement from your employer or another party you are filing a lawsuit against, you forfeit the right to file any further complaints against this entity. Visit this page to learn more about how a lawyer can help you settle with your employer.
Evaluate Your Case
Evaluating your case with the help of an experienced lawyer is essential to assess whether your termination was legal or illegal. For example, states that have at-will employment laws may make it more difficult for employees to seek justice because employers reserve the right to fire employees. Your case also may not qualify for wrongful termination if there are clauses in your employment contract about how and when your employer can fire you.
Instead of a settlement for your wrongful termination case, you may also be eligible to negotiate for severance pay. A wrongful termination lawyer can leverage your work history with your employer to help you receive higher severance after you have been terminated, particularly if you have been employed for a long time. Some employers may be motivated to provide a generous severance to avoid a lawsuit or EEOC investigation.
Can a Wrongful Termination Lawyer Help You If You Live In an At-Will State?
If you live in an employment-at-will state, you will generally find that suing your employer for wrongful termination is more challenging. However, even employers in at-will states are under federal laws that protect employees from discrimination and sexual harassment.
This means that if you were fired because of discrimination related to your sex, sexual orientation, religion, race, ethnicity, age, or disability, you will likely be eligible to file a lawsuit for wrongful termination against your employer. Similarly, federal law also protects employees who have a whistleblower status, which means that you can sue your employer if you lose your job in retaliation for filing a complaint.
Is It Possible To Establish That You Were Fired In Retaliation?
Some people mistakenly believe that there is no way to establish being fired in retaliation for being a whistleblower or a witness in another employee’s discrimination complaint.
However, the federal and state laws that protect employees from retaliation supersede the laws that allow employers to fire employees with or without notice. Establishing that you were fired in retaliation for your whistleblower status will depend on direct evidence, such as written communication, HR records, and other historical evidence.
Can You Still Sue Your Employer If You Quit?
If you quit your job, it may be slightly more difficult to file a wrongful termination lawsuit against your employer. However, in cases where you were coerced to quit by your employer due to sexual harassment, threats of retaliation, or unsafe working conditions, you will still be able to file a lawsuit.
When you work with an experienced lawyer, details about your work experience can be used to provide evidence for why you had to quit, such as quitting your job for your safety. In these cases, historical evidence about unsafe working conditions, toxic working environments, or other complaints from employees can all prove why you had to quit your job and why you should be able to sue your employer.
What Rights and Benefits Do Terminated Employees Have?
Under federal and state law, terminated employees are entitled to certain rights and benefits. For example, terminated employees have the right to continue healthcare benefits for a limited amount of time, particularly if their healthcare benefits fall under COBRA or HIPAA. Terminated employees are also eligible for unemployment benefits as long as they meet eligibility requirements.
What Can The EEOC Do About Wrongful Termination?
In cases of unfair treatment, many employees turn to the EEOC for justice. The EEOC can provide the framework that will help you and your lawyer file a strong wrongful termination lawsuit. For example, if you were fired due to discrimination, whistleblowing, or sexual harassment, the EEOC can help with the investigation so you can provide evidence to prove your case in court.
It’s best to only accept a settlement for a wrongful termination case after you have discussed your case and the settlement offer with an experienced employment law attorney. Not only can a lawyer evaluate your case, but a lawyer may also be able to help you negotiate severance pay or other benefits you are entitled to as a terminated employee.