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How to Sue for Wrongful Termination

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How to Sue for Wrongful Termination

Most employees are hired “at will” by a company, which means that an employer can fire an employee at any time and for any legal reason. However, if the employer fires you for an illegal reason, known as wrongful termination, you will have legal standing to sue your employer for wrongful termination. You will also have standing to sue if you are not an at-will employee and your employer violates your contract by terminating you without good cause.

Implied and Written Contracts

If you are not an at-will employee, generally your employer can only terminate you for either good cause or for reasons stated in your contract.


However, the courts may determine you are not an at-will employee if the employer has made implied promises that you are not. Courts have looked at different factors in evaluating the nature of the employment:

  • The term of your employment, such as if you were hired for a contract that expires on a certain date
  • Any written or verbal promises of continued or permanent employment
  • Language in the employment contract

Types of Wrongful Termination

While the laws regarding at-will employment may seem unfair, there are numerous types of wrongful termination that give at-will employees grounds to sue. They include:

  • Discrimination based on an unchangeable characteristic such as sex, race, national original, religion, and physical disability
  • Sexual harassment
  • Breach of the duty of good faith and fair dealing
  • Violating the law, including firing the employee for showing up for mandatory jury duty or responding to a court subpoena
  • Retaliation, which prevents employers from firing employees for notifying authorities of any violations the employer is committing
  • Fraud
  • Defamation
  • Invasion of Privacy

How to Sue for Wrongful Termination

  1. Research how to file a wrongful termination lawsuit.
  2. Determine if you are an at-will employee.
  3. Find and review your employment contract. This may dictate if you are at-will, what reasons the company may fire you for, and how to file any complaints.
  4. File a grievance with your supervisor or HR if you believe you have been fired illegally or without good cause.
  5. If this complaint does not get you the resolution you desire, consult with an employment lawyer. The lawyer will be able to help you determine which claims are available to you, your best course of action, what date you need to file a complaint by, and what damages are owed to you.

Do I Need a Lawyer to Sue for Wrongful Termination?

Employers can legally fire you for a variety of reasons, such as showing up late to work repeatedly or bad performance reviews. However, if the reason is either illegal under federal or state law or is not good cause if you are not an at-will employee, then you have legal recourse for your wrongful termination. You need an employment lawyer to help you navigate the wrongful termination claims system, investigate your case, negotiate settlements, and advocate for your side at trial.

Photo of page author Jessica Long

, LegalMatch Legal Writer

Last Modified: 10-03-2016 02:39 PM PDT

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