If you believe you were illegally fired, or “wrongfully discharged,” there could be a number of legal remedies you can pursue. More often than not, though, a lawsuit is not the first step. Below are a few considerations about wrongful termination claims.
There are a number of reasons an employer can give for firing an employee. Likewise, there are several ways in which an employer can wrongfully discharge an employee. A terminated employee, or one in fear of losing his job, should keep a paper trail of all correspondence with his employer. This should include timestamps, expense reports, and performance reviews. If fired, an employee should always ask for a written reason for the termination.
File a Complaint with the Equal Opportunity Commission
There are a number of situations in which a former employee cannot immediately bring an employer into court, especially if the former employee is a member of a protected class. The first situation is where an employment agreement requires arbitration. Also, most federal laws require that a formal complaint be filed with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) before going to court. If an employee thinks state laws were also violated in his termination, he will also have to file a complaint with the state or local equivalent agency. Depending on the agency, there may be different legal requirements that need to be met in order to bring a wrongful discharge claim.
Depending on the results of the EEOC’s investigation, or the state body’s investigation, the agency may then bring suit against the former employer. This can be a long, taxing process that can sometimes take years to resolve.
If in fact you can prove that your legal rights were violated as a result of a termination, you might be able to collect damages. These can include reinstatement, back pay, front pay, compensatory damages, required reasonable accommodations, injunctive relief, punitive damages, and attorneys’ fees.
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