One of the most important duties for an employer is to keep the workplace safe and free of discrimination, harassment, or illegal activity. You have rights under the Civil Rights Act of 1991, the Americans With Disabilities Act of 1990, and the Family And Medical Leave Act of 1993 (FMLA). But to enact these rights, you will need some key documents from your employer, if you don’t have copies already. These include your employee handbook, contract, personnel file, performance reviews, and any promotions or condemnations you’ve received during your time working for the company. Then you need to hire an experienced and successful employment attorney to fight for you.
“At-Will” or Contract Employee
You will first need to determine what kind of employee you are. An at-will employee is someone who the employer can fire for any legal reason at any time, with or without notice. However, this does not give them free reign to just start going around and terminating employees because they don’t like them. Illegal reasons to fire someone are those based on their race, nationality, religion, or if they reported any type of harassment. So while an employer can legally terminate an employee for saying something on Facebook or doing something outside of company hours that they don’t like, your legal rights aren’t being violated in such cases.
A contract employee is someone who is working under a specific contract, usually with a time frame. Teachers, for example, have distance 9-month contracts that they work. Your contract may specify the grounds on which the contract is allowed to be broken. If you believe you were wrongfully terminated, then you will want to bring a copy of your contract to your consultation with your attorney.
Damages From Wrongful Termination
The types of damages plaintiffs can sue for include economic, compensatory, and punitive damages. Economic damages usually include back pay for the amount of time you would have worked had you not been wrongfully fired. Back pay includes lost wages, benefits, and bonuses. It is calculated from the date you are wrongfully terminated to the start of your trial. Compensatory damages include job search costs, as well as emotional distress.
Lastly, you may be able to seek punitive damages, though these are typically rarer. Their purpose is also different from the other types in that it is meant to punish your employer for their actions and/or decisions, and deters them from doing it again in the future. To collect punitive damages you must prove that your employer behaved in an illegal way, such as discriminating against you for your race, gender, religion or national origin. They could have also retaliated against you for reporting discrimination, refusing a sexual advance, or being a whistleblower.
How much you are entitled to and what type you receive will depend on the facts of your specific case.
Hire an Employment Attorney
A highly knowledgeable and successful employment attorney, such as Lawyer David G. Spivak, will be able to help you receive the damages you deserve. But you will face a lot of obstacles. The defendant’s attorneys will try to find any reason to justify your dismissal. In some cases, supervisors have been known to alter documents to remove the demeaning language they wrote or will reword reports to make you sound like you or your performance were not adequate. They will try to pull a fast one, so call now to speak to an aggressive, successful attorney about your case.