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6 points to consider when evaluating wrongful termination

If you lost your job in a way that wasn't fair, you probably have a sense that something didn't happen the right way. You may know exactly what was wrong about your termination, but you might not know how to describe the situation from a legal perspective.

Perhaps you had to take time off for sick leave and got fired while you were recovering. Maybe you got pregnant, and suddenly lost your job. Perhaps you feel that your termination was racially motivated.

6 ways wrongful termination can happen

There are a lot of different ways wrongful termination can happen. If you feel you lost your job unlawfully, this article will discuss six areas that you may want to investigate:

  • At-will employment: If you're an at-will employee, it means that your boss doesn't need a reason to fire you and you don't need a reason to quit. However, if the termination represents a violation of anti-discrimination laws -- or if the termination happens out of retaliation -- then it's wrongful termination.
  • Anti-discrimination laws: If you feel you may have been discriminated against, you'll want to review the different anti-discrimination laws that protect workers from discrimination based on pregnancy, age, religion, nationality, gender, race, disability, sexual orientation, immigration status, gender identity and more.
  • Contractual obligations: Your employer may owe you specific contractual obligations. For example, you may have signed paperwork that dictates the procedures your employer will follow if you are to be fired. Alternatively, you may have entered into a verbal contract with your employer regarding his or her obligations in this regard. Did your termination violate the terms of such contracts?
  • Whistleblower retaliation: If you report wrongful, unethical or unlawful conduct occurring at your workplace, you may be protected from retaliation by your employer. Employees should not fear reporting the unethical behavior of their colleagues, supervisors or companies.
  • Retaliation for not doing an illegal act: If your boss asks you to do something illegal, you have every legal right to refuse. If your employer retaliates against you for refusing, you can seek legal remedies in court.
  • Medical leave: If you have a new baby in your family, if you're giving birth, if you just gave birth, if you're sick or if you need to take care of someone in your family who is ill, you may have the right to take time off under the Family and Medical Leave Act with certain limitations. Your employer, in many cases, must reserve your position -- or an equal position -- for when you are able to return.

Were you wrongfully terminated from your job?

If you think that any of the above issues played a role in your wrongful termination, you may want to learn more about pursuing an Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) complaint. The EEOC is a federal agency that exists to enforce federal anti-discrimination laws and protect the employee rights of United States residents.

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