Losing your job can take away your ability to support you and your family. However, if you are confident that you have been wrongfully terminated, you can take action, but the clock is ticking. Every moment you wait can result in you not receiving your desired outcome. Building a wrongful termination case takes time. Moreover, it requires that you have every detail of your job fresh in your mind.
A wrongful termination claim can result in reinstatement, a severance package, lost wages, and more. If you feel that you were wrongfully terminated, knowing what steps to take is critical.
The first step is to remain calm. Becoming agitated or retaliating will not help you. You want to stay professional with your company in case you are reinstated. Remember, any retaliatory or inappropriate action you take could be used against you.
Next, start gathering information. Begin with calmly asking your employer to explain your termination. Be sure to write down the explanation, especially any discrepancies. Save any copies of paperwork, such as a write up for disciplinary action, and ask for a written explanation explaining why you were fired.
Write down any events that happened at work that might have led to your termination. Important events to write down would be any incidents of harassment, retaliation, discrimination, or anything deemed inappropriate or illegal. Also, try to gather a few witnesses who can corroborate your claim.
As time moves on, save any emails, text messages, or phone messages you receive from the company or any of its employees. Also, remember to record or write down any conversations.
Make sure to write down your point of view of what happened. Write down specific dates, times, locations of any incidents, names of people involved, and things that people have said or done. Having a clear and concise account of what happened could only improve your case; it can help you and your lawyer organize and prepare the case.
What Is Considered Wrongful Termination?
Wrongful termination is when you are illegally fired by your employer. You cannot be fired for any reason that could be construed as discrimination. Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits being fired on the basis of race, sex, color, religion, or national origin. Revisions have been made to include sexual orientation or transgender status.
There are other laws that protect you from illegal termination as well. The Americans with Disabilities Act, for instance, prohibits discrimination against employees with disabilities in companies with 15 or more employees. This protects you from being fired because of a disability. The Equal Pay Act, which protects women from receiving less pay than men in similar positions, protects you from being fired for reporting unequal pay.
You cannot be fired if you were asked to perform an illegal task but refused. If you make it known that your employer did something illegal, you are also protected from being fired. Your employer cannot fire you for retaliation under any circumstances.
Federal whistleblower protection laws prohibit employers from firing employees who report violations of the law or the misappropriate conduct of their superiors. Firing you under these circumstances would constitute retaliation. If you report discrimination, harassment, or a work hazard, you cannot be fired.
If you are under contract, there could be details explaining the reasons for which you may be terminated. If you are fired for any reason that veers from those reasons, you could have a legitimate reason to file a wrongful termination claim. Employers are also prohibited from firing you for filing a legal claim against them.
What Does Not Count as Wrongful Termination?
It is important to note that Pennsylvania is considered an “at-will” employment state. At-will employment means that a company can fire you for any reason as long as it is not illegal. There are exceptions, but they differ slightly from state to state.
Pennsylvania, for instance, has a public policy exception and a covenant of good faith. The public policy exception prohibits the firing of an employee when the firing violates public policy. For instance, you cannot be fired for reporting a violation of the law or attending jury duty. The covenant of good faith requires that employers act in good faith.
Reasons for termination that are legal may include poor performance, a company reducing its production or workforce, an action that is detrimental to the company, an illegal activity, or noncompliance with company rules. Any reason that is not illegal or in violation of the at-will employment exceptions is a valid and legal reason for termination.
Whom Should You Contact if You Have Been Wrongfully Terminated?
You should quickly file a report with the appropriate agency. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) handles discriminatory or retaliatory acts that violate federal law. The Americans with Disabilities Act, the Equal Pay Act, and the Civil Rights Act all fall under their umbrella.
You should also call a lawyer immediately. An experienced lawyer will advise you on what you should and should not do. You might not be thinking about or be aware of legalities and strategies that could make or break your case, so talking to an experienced lawyer is always helpful.
If you are not satisfied with the results after contacting the appropriate agency, you may want to file a lawsuit. A lawyer can advise you as to whether or not you have a case, what to expect along the way, and what type of compensation or resolution you can expect if you win.
If you were working under a specific contract, your lawyer can read over the contract and underline anything that may qualify as a breach of contract in your favor. Looking over documentation by the company is also important. In fact, you might not have been aware that you could obtain copies of documentation.
The statute of limitations can be difficult to navigate as well, especially for specific types of termination. Most importantly, a lawyer will be able to build a case directly based on your specific situation.
Philadelphia Employment Attorneys at Sidney L. Gold & Associates, P.C. Represent Those Who Have Been Wrongfully Terminated
If you feel that you were fired from your job because of discrimination, retaliation, or any other illegal reason, you need an experienced attorney to help you through the process. One of our Philadelphia employment attorneys at Sidney L. Gold & Associates, P.C. will fight to get you the best results possible. Call us at 215-569-1999 or contact us online for a free consultation. Located in Philadelphia and Pennsauken, New Jersey, we serve clients throughout South Jersey and Southeastern Pennsylvania, including Wilkes-Barre, Scranton, Northeast Philadelphia, Bucks County, Chester County, Delaware County, and Montgomery County.