If you have become the victim of a wrongful termination, there are several steps you’ll need to take in order to protect your rights and preserve your legal options moving forward. Even if you’re unsure of whether the circumstances of your firing meets the legal definition of a wrongful termination, it’s important to behave as if you have grounds to take legal action against your employer. That way, you won’t unintentionally compromise your rights or legal options before you’ve had the chance to speak with an experienced Orange County employment attorney about your situation. Once you’ve avoided common missteps, clarified the terms of your firing, connected with an attorney, and gathered relevant information, you can begin exploring your legal options and determining whether you want to take legal action against your employer at this time.
First – “Do Nothing”
Rather than acting on impulse, it’s important to be thoughtful about your words and actions in the wake of a potentially unlawful termination. When you’re fired unjustly, it can be tempting to lash out at your employer, to vent on social media, and to otherwise make your frustration, anger, and sense of betrayal known and understood. Every word you speak to your boss or co-workers could be used to dismantle your efforts at legal action filed against your employer down the road. Similarly, every word you write in an email, send in a text, or post online could compromise your rights and legal options. Until you’ve spoken with an employment attorney experienced in the area of wrongful termination law, it’s a good idea to “do nothing.” Don’t do or say anything in the heat and frustration of the moment that could, in any way, make it harder for you to seek justice moving forward.
Clarify the Terms of Your Termination
If possible, get your employer to clarify the terms of your firing in writing. You may be asked to resign rather than suffer termination. On face, this may seem like a good alternative because you won’t ever have to explain to a prospective employer that you were fired. However, resigning may impede your ability to hold your employer accountable for termination and it may affect your ability to receive unemployment compensation. If possible, speak with an attorney before agreeing to resign. Similarly, you may be presented with a severance offer upon your termination. If you are given this opportunity, take the offer to an attorney to be evaluated before signing it. If you sign a severance agreement, you may sign away your right to sue. It’s important to get all the information you can before making a final decision.
Connect with an Experienced Wrongful Termination Lawyer
Once you’ve gathered your belongings and left your worksite, it’s time to get in contact with an experienced wrongful termination lawyer. Some terminations occur without warning. However, most of the time, an employer’s human resources department is alerted to an impending termination before the employee is made aware that they’re being let go. As a result, your employer has probably been “covering their bases” (legally speaking) for some time now. Therefore, you don’t have any time to waste before you connect with an experienced legal advocate. Not only do you need to be aware that statutes of limitations give you a finite time to file a claim, it’s also important to understand just how swiftly your employer can bar you from accessing important evidence that could make or break your case. Oftentimes, employees aren’t even allowed to access their workstations in the aftermath of a termination. The quicker you get in touch with an experienced attorney, the faster they can move to protect your rights, preserve evidence, and better ensure that you remain empowered to take legal action should you choose to.
Gather Information and Evidence
Once you connect with an attorney, they’ll provide you with specialized guidance regarding your next steps. One of these steps will undoubtedly involve gathering all the information and evidence you can that may help to support your wrongful termination claim. The kinds of information you’ll be asked to gather will depend upon your circumstances. Consider that a majority of wrongful termination claims involve discrimination or harassment in the workplace. If this circumstance applies to your situation, your attorney will want you to gather any evidence that you may have access to that substantiates your claim of discrimination or harassment. Do you have emails, texts, or social media posts that illustrate the mistreatment you’ve suffered? Do you have the names and contact information of any witnesses to this illegal behavior? Do you have copies of your employment contract and any employee rights/workplace ethics handbooks available? Gather any information you can that you believe could be used to help prove your claims. Bring this evidence with you to your initial consultation with your attorney. The more information that your attorney is given access to, the better guidance they can give you regarding your legal options and the possible hurdles you may encounter if you choose to file legal action against your employer.
Understand Your Rights and Explore Your Legal Options
Once you’ve scheduled a consultation with an attorney and gathered evidence to bring to your initial meeting, you’ll need to learn more about your legal rights and options in order to make an informed decision about filing a wrongful termination claim. Wrongful termination claims may be filed by an employee who has been fired under illegal circumstances.
As previously mentioned, the majority of wrongful termination cases are filed due to discriminatory circumstances or unlawful harassment. The law protects workers from being terminated on account of discrimination based on their age, sex, gender, religion, national origin, ethnicity or race, disability, sexual orientation, or genetic information. Similarly, termination tied to quid pro quo sexual harassment, in which someone is fired for refusing to comply with an employer’s demand for sexual favors, etc., is also illegal. However, discrimination and harassment are not the only grounds for a wrongful termination suit. Other common reasons why employees file these legal actions include retaliation and constructive termination. Constructive termination arises when the employer unlawfully creates a work environment so hostile that the worker is compelled to quit. By contrast, unlawful termination stemming from retaliation occurs when a worker is fired for engaging in a protected activity. For example, if an employee was fired for lawfully reporting unsafe working conditions to the Occupational Health and Safety Administration, requesting workers’ compensation benefits in the wake of a work-related accident, or making a complaint to human resources about sexual harassment, these would be unlawful terminations based in retaliation.
Filing legal action isn’t always a wrongfully terminated worker’s preferred choice. If, for example, you have been presented with a significant severance package on the condition that you won’t sue your employer, you may ultimately opt to forego filing a wrongful termination claim. However, it’s important to speak with an experienced employment attorney to weigh all available options first rather than dismissing any option out of hand. Depending on your circumstances, you could both be entitled to significant compensation and be in a position to help others in similar situations avoid your fate by holding your employer accountable for their wrongful actions. The choice of whether to move forward with a wrongful termination suit is always up to you. However, it’s important to explore your options with an experienced employment lawyer before committing to one option over another.
Legal Assistance Is Available
If you believe you may have been wrongfully terminated, please contact an experienced employment law attorney at Eldessouky Law immediately. As previously mentioned, your employer will likely be moving swiftly to bar your access to valuable evidence concerning your case and may have been preparing to legally defend their decision for some time now. Your swift action may make the difference between being able to file a successful wrongful termination suit and not having enough evidence to seek as much compensation to which you’d be otherwise entitled.
As soon as we understand the circumstances surrounding your termination, we can begin advocating on your behalf, protecting your rights, and preserving your legal options. Being unjustly fired is an undeniably stressful turn of events. But you do have legal options available to you. Instead of getting mad, talk to our firm about getting even. We take great pride in advocating for our clients using a compassionate, knowledgeable, efficient, and fiercely determined approach. It would be our honor to hear your story and to learn about how we may be of service to you at this time. Please act now – there is quite literally no time to waste when it comes to protecting and enforcing your rights.