What makes a termination “Wrongful”?
A wrongful termination occurs when an employer terminates an employee for a reason that is protected by the law. This termination can be either through firing or permanent lay off. Employers have the right to hire and fire whomever they chose so that their business can function properly, but these terminations must be in compliance with the law at all times.
What Is Considered Wrongful When Terminating An Employee?
It is considered wrongful termination when an employer lets go an employee based on one or more of the following reasons:
- Sexual Preference
- Religious Preference
- National Origin
- Skin Color
- Political Preference
- Physical Disability
- Mental Disability
Employees are protected from being dismissed for any of these specific reasons. If an employer decides to terminate employment based on any of these facts, they are in direct violation of the law. It should also be noted that at this point, your employer may also have charges brought against them for Civil Rights violations.
Additional Reasons An employee Cannot Be Terminated
In addition to discrimination laws, employees cannot be terminated for any of the following reasons:
- Refusal to break the law for the business
- Having to take time off to serve in the Military
- Refusal to work in unsafe working conditions
- Any whistleblower actions
Employers cannot terminate employment if an employee refuses do something for the business that they know is in violation of any laws. This can include illegal activity of any kind or even being asked to misrepresent a product or service.
Employees who serve in the Military are protected from wrongful dismissal to serve their country. Businesses are required to reinstate any employee when they return from active duty.
Employees working in unsafe working conditions have the right to refuse to do the work unless the conditions are improved. A common example of this would be a construction worker who is required to work above ground. If the worker d\is not provided the right safety equipment, in this case something to prevent them from falling, they cannot be terminated from refusing to do the work.
If an employee discovers that someone within the company, or the company itself, is committing a crime, they cannot be fired for reporting this activity to the authorities. Under the Whistleblower Act, any person who reports this type of criminal activity has full protection of the law for their position.
Are All Employers Required To Obey These Laws?
All businesses that operate in the United States are required to obey these laws. There are a lot of urban rumors that say that small businesses with under a certain number of employees, or some industries do not have to comply by these rules. This is simply not true. All businesses must comply with non-discrimination laws.
It should also be understood that businesses that have employment contracts or have unions are also required to obey these laws. An employer cannot break an employment contract based on any of these reasons. Union workers are also protected from wrongful dismissal.
What Is A Legal Termination?
Employers have the right to terminate employment for any reason they see fit if it does not violate any laws. All employment is seen as “at-will” which means that it is an open ended agreement for the employee to work for the company. Because of this, employers can base your termination on work performance, attendance, compatibility with coworkers, or the amount of work that the company has available. They may have several other personal reasons to terminate your employment. All of these are valid if they remain in compliance with the law.
What Are My Rights If I Was Wrongfully Terminated?
If you are the victim of being wrongfully discharged, you are encouraged to speak with Charleston wrongful termination lawyers about your case. Your lawyer can discuss with you what your rights are and what types of damages you can seek as a result of your termination.
What If They Say They Fired Me For A Different Reason?
If you believe that you were fired illegally, and your employer has stated it was for a different reason, you still may have a case. You will need to speak with Charleston wrongful termination lawyers about your case and present to them all of the evidence that you have showing that your termination was for a discriminatory reason. Your attorneys will review the information that you have provided and tell you your options.
What Can I Actually Get From Filing A Claim Against Them?
Depending on the circumstances surrounding the case, and your personal preference, you may be able to seek the following damages in a wrongful dismissal case:
- Current and future lost wages
- Current and future lost benefits
- Reinstatement of position
- Reinstatement at company in different position
- Punitive damages – in some cases
- Attorney and legal fees
Since every case is different, your attorney will explain to you what types of compensation you are entitled to under the law based on your specific case.
Will This Impact My Future Employment?
There is never a guarantee on what could affect your future employment. In most cases, seeking compensation for a wrongful termination should not have any impact on any future employment. It will be totally at your discretion if you wish to disclose to your potential new employers that you have filed a suit against your previous employer for this reason.
It is most likely that your previous employer will not willingly disclose this type of information. If they have just lost a wrongful dismissal case, it is not something that they will want to broadcast to other employers. They know what they did was wrong and it is most likely they will want to keep this information as quiet as possible to protect their business.
It will be up to you whether or not to disclose this information. It will also be totally up to the potential employer how they will react to that information. It is most likely the best advice to leave the past in the past and move on to a brighter future at your new job.
To arrange a meeting to discuss your rights and options, contact our office online or call us at 800-766-9441.