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Wrongful Termination & Discharge

Wrongful termination and discharge cases regarding an employee fired by a business happen all the time. There are over 20 legal grounds for making a claim for wrongful termination or discharge and over one-half of all cases are won by the former employee.

In some districts the figure rises to 70-percent of the cases are won by the former employee.

Most who win, contact a personal injury lawyer first in order to sort out the case against the former employer. It is important to note that the average pay range for someone who has been wrongfully terminated is between $35,000 - $40,000 per year, while the average verdict against former employers is over $300,000.

 

Blue and Light Blue Are At-Will States
 

Most of the states in the U. S. are employment "at-will" states and there is no formal contract between employer and employee. At-will also means that a company can fire its employees at-will at any time for any reason or no reason at all. Employees are also free to leave a company at-will for any reason or no reason at all. Many people think that because they live in an "at-will" state, that they have no legal rights if they are terminated from a job.

Wrongful discharge lawyers will look at four areas of the law to see if their clients have a case including federal and state statutes, public policy, good faith and fair dealing and implied contracts. Applicable federal and state statutes include anti-discrimination laws such as firing a person because of race, national origin, age, sex, religion, sexual preference, positive HIV/AIDS tests, disability, height, weight, arrest record, marital status, genetic carrier status and military service, which are all grounds for a wrongful termination case.

If the discharge of an employee violates a public policy, such as termination for jury duty, filing a worker's compensation claim or refusal to break the law at the request of the employer, then this is also grounds for a wrongful termination case. Another common law extension of public policy is whistle blower retaliation, which is prohibited in nearly all jurisdictions. Employees are protected for reporting an employer for misconduct to a state or federal regulatory agency, such as for fraud or for causing environmental hazards. Statute of limitations to file under the whistle blower laws may be very short, lasting only a number of weeks in some jurisdictions, so it is important to check with a wrongful termination lawyer and file the proper paperwork as quickly as possible after being discharged.

Eleven of the U. S. states recognize the "good faith and fair dealing" exception to employment termination. This means that in every employment relationship, the employer needs to act in a fair manner and that discharging an employee without "just cause" or due to maliciousness or bad faith is prohibited.

Many companies in at-will states will say they are at-will employers but this may be only part of the time. These employers may also imply to any or all employees (usually in employee manuals or handbooks) that there are other rules at work such as reassuring employees that they will only be fired for just cause or that there is a disciplinary process prior to termination that will be followed in discharging employees. These kinds of reassurances may indicate and implied or explicit contract in the eyes of the courts. In addition, most companies may not fire employees because their stock options are going to be vested, because either the implied contract or fair dealing.

While not strictly wrongful termination cases, other employment-related claims may also be filed such as invasion of privacy if the employer was spying on its employees or defamation of character if the employee's permanent file contained untrue and malicious statements or even tortious interference with prospective business relations if the employer is trying to prevent re-employment.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

 


 

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