Recently terminated employees may harbor ill feelings against their former employer – but not everyone has a case for wrongful termination. Find out whether you might prevail in court with this advice.
Step 1: Know when regulations are on your side Know that you have a case if your employer has violated state or federal discrimination law, employment-related provisions in the Fair Credit Reporting Act or Bankruptcy Act, or the company's own policy.
Step 2: Stand up for your rights Stand up if your employer fires you for reasonably exercising your rights under labor laws, participating in a union, or taking leave for military service or under the Family and Medical Leave Act.
TIP: Your employer cannot legally terminate you for refusing to break a law or for whistle-blowing.
Step 3: Plan your exit Inquire about why you were terminated. Retain the company handbook and any records that may prove that your employer treated you unfairly. Become familiar with your employment agreement's provisions.
Step 4: Weigh your options File a complaint, if appropriate, with the appropriate government agency, and/or file a private lawsuit.
Step 5: File a complaint form Bring your complaint to the Department of Labor, Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, or Occupational Safety and Health Administration.
Step 6: Brace for a battle Recognize that the Doctrine of Employment At Will, which states that an employer can terminate an employee at will and without consequence, can make it difficult to prove wrongful termination.
TIP: Request and negotiate a severance package and obtain all severance agreements in writing.
Step 7: Seek out an attorney Seek the advice of a labor law attorney sooner rather than later due to statutes of limitation. Lawyers often take winnable wrongful termination cases on a contingency basis.
FACT: One study found that plaintiffs in wrongful termination suits prevailed at trial between 47% and 57% of the time.