Wrongful Termination: Do You Need an Employment Lawyer?
When you lose your job, you may wonder if it was wrongful termination. Some companies try to cover up wrongful termination actions with fabricated performance complaints and other information, making employment law cases complex. If you have reason to believe your dismissal was unlawful, an employment lawyer is your best source of legal advice.
When does a discharge constitute wrongful termination? What damages are available in a wrongful termination claim? Can you resign and still consider the separation a wrongful termination? How does Arizona employment law impact your claim? If you believe you will soon be terminated wrongfully, how can you prepare? How can you exercise your rights under the law? These are all important questions. The answers start here, but if you want to get information about your own situation, please schedule a consultation. A Gillespie Shields employment lawyer can help conduct an investigation to build a case against an employer for his or her misconduct.
What is Wrongful Termination?
You may have a legal claim for wrongful termination if you are fired in violation of a state or federal statute. These include Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Adults With Disabilities Act (ADA), the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA), the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), the Fair Labor Standards Act, or Arizona Minimum Wage and Paid Sick statutes. Arizona At-Will employment makes this type of suit more difficult, which makes it even more important to consult with an attorney if you believe you may have claims. Please remember that this is not legal advice, but simply information to help you understand your rights. A wrongful termination lawyer is needed to help you file a suit in an effective and timely way.
What constitutes wrongful discharge under the law? Types of wrongful termination include:
- Discriminatory discharge. If your employer based its decision to terminate your employment on your age, race, skin color, gender, sexual orientation, religion, disability, or national origin, you may have a wrongful termination claim.
- Retaliation under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. If you oppose discrimination at work on behalf of yourself or other employees, and you are subsequently scrutinized, disciplined, demoted, suspended, and/or terminated, you may be entitled to a wrongful discharge claim. For this type of claim, you will need to prove that you reported or opposed discrimination, that you suffered an adverse action in response, and that there is a causal connection between your report and the adverse action.
- Being terminated for opposing unlawful activity (for example, by complaining internally or to the EEOC, IRS, or other government agency) or participating in an investigation of the company. This is known as retaliation. If you complain about workplace safety, discrimination, wages, a denied leave claim or oppose any activity by your employer that you reasonably believe to be against the law, and you are subsequently terminated, you may be entitled to bring a wrongful termination claim.
- Being terminated for taking a legal leave of absence. You may not be able to collect wages on leave, but in certain cases, your employer cannot terminate you for taking unpaid leave, including reasons covered under the FMLA (Family Medical Leave Act), to take part in legal proceedings if you were the victim of a crime, for jury duty, to serve in the military (for up to five years) or for other legally excusable forms of absence.
- Retaliation in violation of the Arizona Employment Protection Act. The Arizona Employment Protection Act protects employees who oppose practices that are against Arizona law. Examples could include failing to adhere to local regulations, failing to pay minimum wage, discouraging employees from filing criminal charges against a customer, or terminating an employee for filing an order of protection against a coworker.
What You Can Do if You Suspect Discrimination or Unlawful Activity is Occurring at Work.
Our employment attorneys are here to help. Consultations are totally confidential. If something is going on at work and you do not know what you should do, feel free to schedule a consultation with us. Tell our attorneys your situation. Even if you are still at work, our attorneys can help you protect yourself, know your rights, and prepare for the possibility of a legal claim arising after your discharge. Don’t be afraid to report discrimination or unlawful activity at work. The laws described above carry protections for people who are whistleblowers. If you want to know more and how these protections affect your situation, it is a good idea to contact an employment lawyer right away.
How Does At-Will Employment Affect Wrongful Termination Claims?
Employment in Arizona is “at will.” This means you can quit at any time for any reason. Likewise, your employer can terminate you at any time for any reason, or no reason at all, but it cannot be an unlawful reason. It is rare that your employer will admit to terminating you unlawfully. Therefore, it is almost always a good idea, if you suspect you may have been terminated unlawfully, to consult with an employment attorney.
Please don’t rely on legal advice from friends or the internet. Only an experienced Arizona wrongful termination lawyer can determine whether you have a good case and can help you strategize the best methods for efficiently seeking legal recourse.
What to Do if You Suspect Wrongful Termination
If you believe you may have been wrongfully terminated, talk to an experienced employment attorney at Gillespie Shields. Keep as many records of communications with your employer as possible.
When you meet with one of our attorneys, you should be prepared to discuss the circumstances of your termination, what occurred in the months or weeks leading up to it, whether you reported or opposed unlawful activity, whether the employer documented performance or disciplinary issues against you, and whether the employer offered a severance agreement.
Our team can help you file a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). We may speak with your former employer on your behalf and help you fight for lost wages, emotional distress and other compensatory damages. You worked hard to secure your position of employment, and because of someone’s careless or malicious behavior, you now have to start the process over again.
The good news is you do not have to take unlawful conduct sitting down. We can help you hold your former employer accountable for its unlawful activity. The team at Gillespie, Shields, Goldfarb & Taylor in Phoenix is ready to help. Contact us today to learn more.