“I’ve been fired.” These are words that no one wants to have to tell their loved ones. Losing a job is painful and traumatic and often leaves a worker wondering how they will continue to pay the bills. While nearly everyone who has been in the workforce has worked beside someone who clearly failed to do their duty and then lost their job, sometimes an employee’s termination isn’t appropriate or lawful and violates a workers’ rights.
How Do I Know If I Was Wrongfully Terminated?
Although it is true that New York is an “employment at-will” state, meaning that employers have the right to fire any employee for nearly any reason (and employees have the option to quit at any time), there are exceptions.
Under New York discrimination laws, employers may not terminate an employee based on protected characteristics. This includes:
- National Origin
- Sexual Orientation
- Gender Identity
If an employee can prove their termination was due to one of these protected characteristics, they may be able to take legal action.
There are hundreds of rule and regulations in place for nearly every industry that exists, each designed to protect employees. But as many New Yorkers know, just because these regulations exist doesn’t mean that an employer follows them. While OSHA does make random inspections to catch negligent employers, the administration is understaffed and usually, it takes a complaint from an employee or an accident for an inspection to occur.
Complaints made to OSHA can be anonymous but sometimes an employer still believes they know the employee who filed it. If an employee reports an illegal or unethical act, their employer cannot retaliate against the whistleblower, including firing them.
Failing To Perform Illegal Acts
If an employee chooses to not participate in an illegal act, such as knowingly violating a safety regulation or discriminating against another employee, their employer cannot retaliate against them by terminating their employment.
Filing A Workers’ Compensation Claim
When an employee is hurt on the job, they have the legal right to file for workers’ compensation coverage through the insurance company their employer has a policy with. While some employers may not like this fact because it can bring attention to unsafe work practices or make their policy rates go up, they cannot fire an employee for filing a claim.
If you believe that you or a loved one were wrongfully terminated, the next step to take is to contact an attorney who can review the case and explain all possible legal avenues available.
What Can I Hope To Gain From Filing A Wrongful Termination Complaint?
When someone obtains compensation for their losses, this compensation is referred to as “damages”. In wrongful termination cases, damages may include:
Obviously, when an employee is terminated, they are faced with the sudden loss of their income. This loss can be calculated and they may be able to fully regain that loss.
Benefits offered through employment can also be calculated and the loss of these benefits recouped through a complaint.
The stress of having to not only handle a sudden termination but also to fight against discrimination is enough to cause anxiety and depression. These conditions are treatable but medication and therapy cost money, money that a wrongfully terminated employee is already worrying about.
How Much Is My Case Worth?
This is a difficult question to answer without having reviewed the facts of the case. Every single wrongful termination case is different and the losses sustained are different.
What Is The EEOC?
EEOC stands for the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. This is the agency that deals with employment discrimination cases. Before a lawsuit can be filed on the basis of wrongful termination because of race, color, religion, sex (including pregnancy, gender identity, and sexual orientation), national origin, age (40 or older), disability, genetic information, or retaliation, a charge must first be filed with the EEOC. Then, a “Notice of Right to Sue “ is given. Typically, the lawsuit must be filed within 90 days of this notice.
Due to the complex filing procedures and strict deadlines, it’s best to contact an attorney as soon as possible. Not only can an attorney help with the paperwork, but they can also help to collect any evidence that may be needed to support the claim.