Losing your job can be upsetting enough without worrying that the termination was also a violation of your rights. A wrongful discharge robs a person of their wages and benefits unfairly and can create immense stress for the terminated employee and their families.
Thus, taking legal action after you’ve been terminated because of discrimination, retaliation, or another wrongful basis can be an option worth considering, and talking to an attorney could be wise, especially if you notice the following clues.
Warning signs to watch for
If you are worried about getting fired or you have recently been fired, keep an eye out for clues that the termination was retaliatory or discriminatory.
You recently complained about harassment or discrimination. When employees engage in protected activity, like reporting sexual harassment or complaining about unsafe work conditions, the law protects them against retaliation from their employers. Prohibited retaliation includes termination. So, if you recently filed a complaint, filed for workers’ compensation benefits, or requested medical leave and were then fired, there may be grounds for a legal claim.
Your boss lied about the reason for your termination. Your boss does not have to provide a reason for firing you if you are an at-will employee in New York. However, if they fabricate a reason for firing you or are suspiciously withholding when it comes to giving you an explanation, they may be attempting to cover up an unlawful decision.
Your workload and performance reviews suddenly changed beforehand. Hindsight can be 20/20, which means you may not realize something was amiss until it is too late. Consider the events leading up to your termination. Did you suddenly start receiving poor performance reviews without explanation? Was your schedule or workload changed in a way that set you up for failure? These could be signs that others were laying the groudnwork to fire you for unlawful reasons.
Your employer violated a contractual agreement. If you have an employment agreement in place or your employers have policies in place for termination protocols, they must comply with them, just as you must. If your employers violate the contract or established policies, they may be legally responsible for wrongful termination.
Pursuing a legal claim in light of these suspicions can be a good option for wronged employees. Not only can it hold employers accountable for noncompliance with state and federal employee protections, but it may also mean reinstatement or payment of damages for the employee.