Understanding your legal rights is only part of the equation. Many employees are uncertain about when these laws apply and what constitutes a breach of these protections. Let’s explore some frequent instances of wrongful termination to help you recognize when you might need legal assistance.
Close to Receiving New Benefits: Companies often provide perks and enhanced benefits to employees who have been with them for a specified duration. For instance, you might become eligible for stock options after a certain number of years with the company, or you might qualify for a pension or other retirement benefits if you remain employed for a predetermined period.
If you were dismissed just before becoming eligible for such benefits, you might have a valid wrongful termination claim. This is particularly likely if you had a solid performance history with little or no justification for lawful dismissal. A skilled attorney can assist you in proving that your termination was aimed at preventing you from receiving financial benefits or other entitlements.
Termination Due to Discrimination: Proving you were let go because of discrimination can be challenging, but it’s not insurmountable. Document all interactions between you and your employer that relate to your firing, as well as any dialogue that preceded it. If your employer made comments that suggest a prejudice against a part of your identity that is legally protected, such evidence can support your discrimination claim.
Additionally, observe the overall composition of your prior workplace. For instance, if you were the sole female or person of a particular ethnic background and you were the only one terminated, that could bolster a discrimination case. If your dismissal resulted in the workplace becoming more homogenous, this evidence may aid your cause.
Dismissal After Exercising Legal Rights: Employees have rights beyond just protection from discrimination and retaliation. For instance, you are permitted to take time off work to vote in elections at various levels of government. Additionally, the Family and Medical Leave Act allows many workers to take up to 12 weeks of unpaid family or medical leave. If you lost your job soon after invoking one of these legal entitlements, you might have a viable case for wrongful termination.
Termination Following Disclosure of a Protected Trait: If you were dismissed shortly after disclosing a characteristic that is legally protected, you might have a strong case for wrongful termination. This could be relevant if you’ve informed your employer about aspects like:
– Being pregnant
– Having a disability, mental illness, or chronic illness
– Identifying as LGBTQ+
– Being a follower of a particular religion
While it’s often challenging to prove that your disclosure led to your firing, a skilled attorney can help make a convincing argument if there is a case to be made.