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Wrongful Termination -- Employee Law

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Finding a Wrongful Termination Lawyer

Getting laid off or fired from your job can come as a shock. Many workers think they have a secure job because they work hard, show up on time, and get along with co-workers. In some cases, it is not because you're not doing a good job but because of discrimination or retaliation.

Workers have federal and state protections against unlawful termination. It is against the law for an employer to discriminate against a worker based on race, religion, age, sexual orientation, or other protected class. Workers are also protected from reporting illegal activity, sexual harassment, or discrimination in the workplace.

This article summarizes wrongful termination and how you can find the right wrongful termination lawyer to handle your case. Employee rights and job protection laws are different in every state. Contact a lawyer in your state for legal advice when looking for a wrongful termination attorney.

Wrongful Termination Overview

Wrongful termination is firing an employee for an unlawful reason. Most workers are considered "at-will." Employment at-will means that either the employee or employer can terminate the work relationship at any time. However, employers cannot fire an employee for an illegal reason, even with at-will employment.

The most common types of wrongful termination claims involve employment discrimination and whistleblower retaliation.

Employment Discrimination Claims

Discrimination in firing an employee is prohibited by state and federal law. Under federal law, discrimination in employment is prohibited based on the following:

  • Race
  • Religion
  • Color
  • National origin
  • Sex
  • Pregnancy
  • Sexual orientation
  • Gender identity
  • Age (for workers 40 or older)
  • Disability
  • Genetic information

These federal protections apply in every state. However, state laws can add additional protections for employees. For example, West Virginia also prohibits discrimination in employment based on ancestry. In California, employment discrimination is prohibited based on marital status.

Whistleblower Retaliation

whistleblower is someone who reports illegal or discriminatory activity. Workers are protected from retaliation for reporting employment discrimination, sexual harassment, labor law violations, worker safety violations, or other violations of the law. Workers can also refuse to participate in unlawful employment practices at the direction of their employer.

What Can I Get From a Wrongful Termination Lawsuit?

There are several possible remedies in a wrongful termination lawsuit, depending on the outcome of the case and whether you even want your job back. You may be able to get back pay for lost wages and lost benefits. In some cases, you can be reinstated to your job or even get a promotion. If the employer's actions were especially egregious, you might be able to get punitive damages.

Ways to Find a Wrongful Termination Lawyer

There is a lot of information out there about wrongful termination, and it can be challenging to know where to start. The following are some options to narrow your search for the right attorney and help you find the right employment lawyer to handle your case.

Referrals from Friends or Family

Do you know someone who had a similar experience after an unlawful termination? If you know someone who was fired for workplace discrimination, ask about their experience with their lawyer. If they had a good experience with their case, you can get the contact information of their lawyer and call to find out if they can meet with you about your case. If you know a lawyer who works in another practice area, they may be able to direct you to a colleague or law office that handles wrongful termination claims.

State Bar Association

Each state has a bar association that regulates the practice of law and licenses attorneys in the state. Many state bar associations also provide a lawyer referral service to the public. For example, in Nevada, the State Bar of Nevada has a lawyer referral service to match users with lawyers based on their location and the nature of their legal problems. Check your state's bar association website to see if they provide referrals.

Third-Party Search Tools

A random search for wrongful termination lawyers online will yield thousands of results. To narrow down your search, you can focus on lawyers in your area with experience in cases like yours. Third-party lawyer listings, like LawInfo, can help you find licensed attorneys in your area that can answer your questions about wrongful termination. To search for a wrongful termination attorney you can use this link to search for a wrongful termination attorney where you live.

Finding the Right Employment Attorney for Your Case

After you have the contact information for a few employment law attorneys, fill out a contact form or call to set up an initial consultation. A consultation is an excellent way to find out if the lawyer or law firm is right for you. Be prepared with some questions to ask as part of your consultation, which can include:

  • How do I know if I was fired for unlawful reasons?
  • Do you offer a free case evaluation?
  • How many years of experience do you have with wrongful termination cases?
  • Do you charge a flat fee, hourly rate, or contingency fee?
  • How will I get updates about my case?
  • What compensation can I get from my former employer?
  • What steps should I take now?

After a lousy employment experience, many former employees just move on and don't take legal action. If you don't come forward, your employer may be able to go on illegally firing employees and violating their civil rights. Use the LawInfo directory to find a wrongful termination lawyer where you live to hold your former employer accountable for their actions.