Suing for Wrongful Termination: A Complete Guide
Immediately upon being fired, you need to determine whether your employer dismissed you illegally.
This article will help you learn what constitutes wrongful termination and how to deal with it. We will also introduce you to a hassle-free way of suing your employer in small claims court using DoNotPay and potentially receiving thousands in compensation.
When Can You Sue For Wrongful Termination?
In the United States, wrongful termination laws vary from state to state. The table below outlines a general guideline for what constitutes wrongful termination and the laws in place to protect you.
|Wrongful Termination||Not a Wrongful Termination|
|Your employment is not at-will and your contract requires a reasonable cause for termination.||You are employed at will and the reason for being laid off is not discriminatory.|
|You engaged in a “protected concerted activity” such as discussing working conditions or labor issues. Employees are protected by the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA).||You are fired for recurring cases of tardiness although you have a perfectly valid reason.|
|Your employer retaliated against you for whistleblowing.||You are issued a written notice.|
|Your employer discriminated against you for your race, age, gender, religion, or disability. This is illegal based on the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).||You are fired during the probationary period where it is understood by both parties that termination at any time is a possibility.|
|Your termination was due to your genetics which is protected under the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (GINA).||You are terminated without any notice.|
What Evidence Do You Need For A Wrongful Termination Claim?
To prove wrongful termination, try to have much information on hand. Remember that your employer will not admit to firing you illegally and may give a false reason, such as poor performance. Thus, having sufficient evidence will come in handy not only in the lawsuit but also in an EEOC complaint.
In an at-will arrangement, employees can be fired at any time and without any cause. As such, you need to prepare even more evidence to prove that you were terminated illegally.
The most common examples of evidence that you can use in suing for wrongful termination can include the following.
- Employment contract
- Relevant communications from the employer such as emails and memos
- Copies of your paycheck
- Witness testimonies
- Employment forms
- Union contracts
- Termination notice
- Job performance reviews
- Employee handbook
Take note that some items may be protected by a Non-Disclosure Agreement so make sure you consult your contract first.
What Can You Expect In Compensation?
In a civil lawsuit such as wrongful termination, you are asking the court to order your former employer to compensate you financially for losses due to the termination. Depending on the severity of losses you suffered, here are some of the monetary damages that you can be awarded if you win the case:
- Lost wages – This includes bonuses, interests, and pay raises from promotions had you remained employed. If the fired employee finds a new job with lower pay, he/she may claim for lost front pay.
- Lost benefits – This includes insurance coverage, 401(k), retirement savings, stock options, and transportation remittances.
- Medical expenses – This is the additional medical expense incurred by the terminated employee whose healthcare coverage has changed.
- Job search costs – These are the costs incurred when searching for a new job.
- Emotional distress – This is compensation for the mental suffering of the fired employee, which can be supported by a psychiatrist’s testimony.
- Attorney’s fees
- Punitive damages
How To Sue An Employer For Wrongful Termination?
Before you can proceed to the lawsuit, you need to file a complaint with the HR department. If your company cannot solve the issue internally, then you may file a complaint with the EEOC. Take note that if you haven’t filed through EEOC first, you cannot sue for discrimination in federal court. The EEOC will investigate and recommend a resolution. If the EEOC fails to resolve the issue, the employee may escalate to filing a civil lawsuit.
Suing in court involves the following process:
- Discovery – This process involves written discovery, interrogation, and document production. It involves having both parties share all relevant documents, submitting written questions that the other party must answer, and looking at the documents that the other party finds relevant to the lawsuit.
- Alternative resolution – You may opt for mediation or arbitration instead of going to court.
- Trial – If mediation or arbitration did not resolve your issue, you may proceed to trial.
How to Sue a Former Employer with DoNotPay
In some cases, suing an employer for wrongful termination can be overwhelming. DoNotPay streamlines the process of suing in small claims court. To start your legal crusade, all you have to do is log in using any web browser.
After that, we will help you:
- Ensure your claim qualifies for small claims court.
- Draft and send a demand letter to your former employer.
- Fill out the court forms.
- File your complaint form against your former employer at the small claims court.
- Serve the forms at your employer’s address.
- Show up for your court date.
DoNotPay is Always By Your Side
Aside from suing your former employer for wrongful termination, DoNotPay can help you with day-to-day issues from cancellation of subscriptions to appealing of parking tickets. On top of providing these services, we also provide 250+ ways to save time and money such as:
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