Wrongful termination is a legal issue that can have significant consequences for both employees and employers. When an employee believes they have been unjustly fired, it often leads to questions about their legal rights and potential recourse.
Understanding Wrongful Termination
Wrongful termination, also known as wrongful dismissal or wrongful discharge, occurs when an employee is terminated from their job in violation of established laws or contractual agreements. It is important to note that not all terminations are considered wrongful; there must be a legal basis for a wrongful termination claim.
Common Grounds For Wrongful Termination
To pursue a lawsuit for wrongful termination, an employee must have valid legal grounds. Here are some common grounds for wrongful termination:
- Employment Contracts: If you have an employment contract that outlines the terms of your employment, including the circumstances under which you can be terminated, a breach of that contract can lead to a wrongful termination claim.
- Discrimination: Federal and state anti-discrimination laws protect employees from being terminated on the basis of protected characteristics such as race, gender, age, religion, disability, or national origin.
- Retaliation: Employers are prohibited from terminating employees who engage in protected activities such as whistleblowing, filing discrimination complaints, or taking legally protected leave (e.g., FMLA).
- Public Policy Violations: Wrongful termination can occur if an employee is fired for reasons that violate public policy, such as refusing to participate in illegal activities or reporting an employer’s illegal conduct.
- Violations of Implied Contracts: Even without a written employment contract, some states recognize implied contracts, which are formed through employer actions or statements. A violation of such contracts can lead to wrongful termination claims.
- Violation of Employment Handbook Policies: Employers who have employee handbooks with specific termination procedures must follow their own policies. Deviating from these procedures can result in wrongful termination claims.
Navigating The Legal Process
Pursuing a lawsuit for wrongful termination can be a complex and challenging process. Here are the key steps involved:
- Consultation with a Lawyer: The first and most crucial step is to consult with an experienced employment lawyer who can assess the details of your case, including the applicable laws and the strength of your claim.
- Gathering Evidence: Your lawyer will help you collect and preserve evidence relevant to your case. This may include emails, employment contracts, performance evaluations, witness statements, and more.
- Filing a Complaint: If your lawyer believes you have a valid claim, they will file a formal complaint with the appropriate government agency or court. The specific procedures and deadlines for filing vary by jurisdiction.
- Discovery: During the discovery phase, both parties exchange information and evidence related to the case. This process may involve depositions, interrogatories, and document requests.
- Negotiation: Employers and employees often engage in settlement negotiations to avoid a lengthy court trial. Your lawyer will advocate for your interests during these negotiations.
- Trial: If a settlement cannot be reached, the case may proceed to trial. Your lawyer will represent you in court, presenting evidence and arguing your case before a judge or jury.
- Verdict or Settlement: Following a trial, a verdict will be reached, or the parties may agree to a settlement. If you win your case, you may be entitled to various forms of relief, including reinstatement, back pay, front pay, and compensation for emotional distress and lawyer fees.
Seeking Legal Assistance
Pursuing a lawsuit for wrongful termination can be a complex and emotionally challenging process. It is crucial to have an experienced wrongful termination lawyer in Los Angeles, CA by your side to guide you through the legal intricacies and advocate for your rights.
At Seber Bulger Law, we have a team of dedicated employment law attorneys with a proven track record in wrongful termination cases. If you believe you have been wrongfully terminated, we are here to provide you with the legal representation and guidance you need.