“At will” employment policy in some states make it difficult to prove wrongful termination in more cases. And this makes it changing for fired employees to establish if their dismissal is illegal or not. Under “At will” policy, either the employer or the employee has rights to terminate the employment contract unexpectedly without consequence, though some reasons are illegal. In other words, you can only win a suit for wrongful termination under “at will” policy if you can provide sufficient facts that the termination constitutes discrimination.
When it is illegal for an employer to you without notice
You can sue your former employer for firing you without notice if you have a collective bargaining agreement or employment contract that mandates a certain amount of warning or notice before firing you.
While this may be difficult to prove, you can sue for wrongful termination if you have sufficient evidence that your dismissal is associated with workplace discrimination recognized by federal law, which makes it illegal for employers to discriminate employees based on:
- Race or color
- Gender or sex
- Genetic information
- Age (above 40)
Your complaint with EEOC would be valid if you were forced to resign, sexually harassed or in retaliation for being a whistleblower.
What to consider before you sue for wrong termination
1. The basis of your job discrimination claim
If you are alleging that your termination is based discrimination, it is better if you first file a charge of discrimination with EEOC before the complaint for job discrimination. Note that each case has a maximum number of days after the alleged incident, usually 180 or 300 days, depending on the local law.
2. What you want to achieve for suing your former employer
Are you suing because you want money, to ensure they didn’t go scot-free or make a change? You need to evaluate your goals to ensure they are reasonable before suing. Also, your goals will also help to ensure that the legal process is not ambiguous and do not linger. Consult your employment attorney. He or she should be helpful during the evaluation.
3. Do you have the resources: time and money to invest?
You must recognize that suing is an expensive business. Unless your employment attorney is willing to take your case pro bono, you should be ready to spend some money. And be sure that your employer will be ready to cause delays using in-house lawyers. A lawful termination case could cost thousands of dollars to reach trial, though most employers prefer to settle the case before they reach trial. Think about how much money and time you will need to invest before suing.
Looking forward to what you have ahead after being fired is most important in your career. Not whether you have made up your mind to sue or not. Plan on how to move on and verify your entitlements after being fired.