If you have recently been terminated, you may wonder if the termination was lawful. Wrongful termination occurs when an employer fires an employee for reasons that violate the law.
But before we dive into wrongful termination, it is essential to understand the concept of at-will employment. Most states in the United States, including Massachusetts, are at-will employment states, which means that employers can fire employees for any reason, as long as it is not discriminatory or retaliatory. That said, let’s take a look at the criteria to prove wrongful termination.
Identifying wrongful termination
Suppose your employer terminated you based on disability status, race, religion or age. In that case, you can claim wrongful termination based on discrimination. Another significant instance is if the company lets you go for filing a discrimination complaint, otherwise known as whistleblowing.
Yet another example of wrongful termination is if your employer fires you for reasons that violate your employment contract. You should also know that employers should not terminate employees for reasons that violate public policy, such as firing an employee for refusing to engage in illegal activities.
Documenting your termination
One good way to build a case for wrongful termination is to document everything related to your termination. You’ll be surprised at how much information can be found in your personnel files and any other documents related to your employment, such as performance evaluations, disciplinary actions and emails from your employer.
Please note that your employer is required by law to provide you with a copy of these personal files once you’re fired. You might also want to request a copy of your termination letter and note down the details of the termination, including:
- The date
- The time
- The location
- Who was present
- What was said and any reasons for your termination
Filing a Complaint
Suppose you believe you have been wrongfully terminated. In that case, you may have the right to file a complaint with a government agency, such as the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) or the Department of Labor.
Being terminated can be a devastating experience, both emotionally and financially. If you believe you have been wrongfully terminated, taking the necessary steps to protect your rights is essential.