Losing your job is always a painful experience and it can knock you sideways in terms of your confidence, let alone the financial pressures you can feel with a loss of regular income.
However, the circumstances that caused you to lose your job might mean you have been subjected to wrongful termination. If that’s the case, you could need an employment lawyer to sort the situation out and help you get any compensation you might be due as a result of losing your job unfairly.
There are thousands of people who are wrongfully terminated each year and if you can prove your case and win a lawsuit it could mean that you get your old job back or receive a settlement to help you put your finances straight.
Here are some signs that might mean you were wrongfully terminated and should consider making a claim through a lawyer.
Discrimination is a common factor
There is no place for discrimination in the workplace these days and there are clear anti-discrimination laws in place that prevent employers from firing you for an inappropriate reason based on a discriminatory factor.
For example, if you are fired and you suspect that the dominant reason for your dismissal was something to do with your race, gender, or sexual orientation, that is clearly a case for claiming that you were discriminated against.
Sometimes the discrimination is more subtle and disguised by the employer so that it doesn’t look like the main reason for firing you.
A typical scenario would be if you are over 40 and it seems that your employer wants to replace you with someone younger.
A good time to fire you
If you have a company bonus scheme or have earned some commission on sales but get fired before it is due to be paid to you, that could be a case for wrongful dismissal.
If the timing of your termination left you out of pocket other than your normal wages and there was not a legitimate reason behind the firing, you may have been wrongfully terminated.
Some unscrupulous employers might concoct a reason for firing you in order to hire someone cheaper. Again, that would be a potential scenario where there has been a basic breach of good faith and that could constitute wrongful termination.
A promise that hasn’t been kept
Your employer might make certain promises to you such as when you will get a pay rise or a promotion and you might take them at their word, especially if those promises are made to lure you to work for them.
If those promises are broken and you are fired before the agreed timeframe has been met that could leave your employer open to a claim for wrongful termination.
When duty calls
There may be a time where you are called away from your job in order to fulfill a public duty such as jury service.
If the case goes on for longer than anticipated that would still be what is considered a violation of public policy if your employer fired you for non-attendance, even if they dress it up as another reason for getting rid of you.
This is just one example of public policies, in other words, complying with legal requirements, that your employer has to respect. If they ask you to do something illegal, for instance, and you refuse to comply with their request, they cannot fairly dismiss you if the act would have violated public policy.
Sometimes, your employer might attempt to fire you as an act of retaliation because you didn’t do what they asked of you. If their request would have broken the law or was unreasonable because you were called way on public duty you may well have a case to take action against them.
There are plenty of different scenarios where your employer could violate public policy and that includes taking family or medical leave if you have followed the correct procedures.
If you happen to see what you consider to be a clear breach of health and safety procedures in the workplace you should be able to raise your concerns with your employer without fear of reprisals.
If the situation is serious enough to cause you to make a formal complaint regarding your specific health and safety concern there are protections in place that should ensure you can’t get fired for speaking out.
The federal Occupational Safety and Health Act has provisions that are designed to protect you from being targeted by your employer for termination.
Some employers might deem you to be a “trouble-maker” just because you raised concerns about a breach of health and safety or some other issue and that could mean they try to harass you or attempt to force you out, which is not far short of firing you.
Either way, it should not be possible for your employer to terminate your employment under these sorts of circumstances and you should speak to a lawyer if this happens.
When your employer tries to damage your reputation
Getting fired or forced out of your job can sometimes be a slow and tortuous process if your employer attempts to use a series of devious tactics to force you out.
One aspect of wrongful termination to consider would be when your employer attempts to defame you as part of the firing process. Spreading falsehoods about you that could damage your reputation and ability to get another job is clearly not acceptable and if your employer adopts this tactic as part of the termination process you may be able to make a claim against them.
Not all cases of wrongful termination are cut and dried and the circumstances can be very complex that lead up to the point where you lose your job.
If you think you have a case for wrongful termination it would be a smart move to talk to a lawyer who understands what constitutes the grounds for a claim so that they can take the opportunity to guide you toward a satisfactory conclusion to what is probably a stressful period in your working life.