A wrongful termination occurs when an employer terminates an employee for an illegal or unauthorized reason. This can be a difficult and stressful issue for the individual who has lost their job.
A lawyer can help an individual gather evidence to demonstrate that they were wrongfully terminated and help them obtain compensation or even get their job back, if that is what they want.
Evidence and documents that are used in wrongful termination cases include, but may not be limited to:
- Document 1: Job description – This is the description of the duties and responsibilities of the individual’s position.
- Document 2: Performance reviews – These are the reviews provided by the individual’s employer regarding their job performance.
- Document 3: Employment contract – If used, this is a contract between the employer and employee that outlines the duties and responsibilities of both parties.
- Document 4: Communication logs (emails, text messages, memos) – These provide a history of interactions between parties.
- Document 5: Witness statements – Statements from other employees in the office.
How Will This Evidence Make My Wrongful Termination Case Stronger?
The evidence listed above can be used to make a stronger case that an individual was wrongfully terminated, especially if they are able to show that they fulfilled their job duties in an appropriate manner. A trained attorney will be best equipped to know which type of evidence will most strongly support the claim and how best to present it to the court.
There are several different ways that an employee can be wrongfully terminated. As noted above, it may occur for an illegal or unauthorized reason, including reasons that:
- Violate local, state, or federal laws;
- Go against public policy; or
- Breach the terms of the employment agreement.
Additionally, wrongful termination may occur if an employer terminates an employee who refused to obey illegal work instructions. This may include things such as ignoring safety regulations for a certain task or requesting them commit a more serious crime, such as larceny or tax evasion.
An employee may also be wrongfully terminated if the employer does not follow their own policies regarding the termination process. If, for example, the employer does not follow the proper steps when releasing the employee from their position.
When an employer terminates an employee for an unlawful or illegal reason, they may face legal consequences. An attorney can use the evidence listed above to support a wrongful termination case.
It is important to note that the majority of employment types are considered to be at-will. This means that the employee is hired for an unspecified amount of time, during which time, the employer may terminate them at any point and without case.
Although at-will employment laws may vary by state, there are reasons that are generally not considered a proper basis for terminating at-will employees, including:
- Discrimination, or termination based on:
- disability; and
- other protected characteristics;
- Breach of the employment contract; and
- Public policy exceptions, for example, retaliatory termination or whistleblowing.
How to File Evidence in Employment Law Court
Wrongful termination cases can be very difficult to prove, as there can often be multiple reasons why an employer terminated an employee. Presenting evidence to demonstrate that a wrongful termination did occur is best done by a trained lawyer.
An individual may be able to attempt to handle certain aspects of their issue themselves, but it is best to consult with a lawyer from the beginning so they can guide the individual through the entire process. A lawyer will be aware of the employment laws that apply in the state as well as what type of employee the individual was classified as.
It may be tempting for an individual to try and file their claim in court without the help of an attorney in the interest of saving money. However, there are numerous rules that govern court processes and introduction of evidence in court that an individual who is not a legal professional will not be aware of.
This may cause them to waste both time and money filing a claim they are unable to support. If, however, an individual hires an attorney as soon as they can following their wrongful termination, they will be able to resolve their case efficiently and obtain the best possible outcome.
It is important to note that many of these types of cases settle outside of the courtroom, with the employer offering compensation to the terminated employee. It is essential for an individual to have representation during any settlement negotiations to ensure they are obtaining fair compensation.
What If This Is Not Accepted by the Courts as Evidence?
If there is a certain piece of evidence that is not accepted by a court, a trained attorney will know how to present other evidence to support their argument. An attorney will prepare before the case goes to court to argue against any requests to exclude evidence.
In addition, the attorney will most likely prepare more than one type of evidence to support an argument, especially one that is central to the claim, for example, using direct evidence and character witnesses. An attorney will also prepare multiple different types of evidence to support each element of their argument so that, in the event that a piece of evidence is excluded for some reason, the whole case will not fall apart and the employee can still prevail.
Many employers have attorneys on staff who are prepared to defend the business against any lawsuits filed against it. An untrained individual will not be prepared to argue against a skilled defense attorney.
In order to ensure as much evidence as possible is accepted by the court, an individual should have an experienced lawyer present their case.
What Are Examples of Wrongful Termination?
Examples of how an employee may be wrongfully terminated include, but are not limited to:
- Retaliatory discharge: Employers may not terminate employees for filing legal complaints against the business. Employees are protected for reporting certain activities, such as:
- harassment in the workplace;
- employee wage violations; and
- other public policy exceptions;
- Discrimination: An employer may not terminate an employee for discriminatory reasons, such as age;
- Taking leave: According to specific federal and state laws, businesses who fall under these guidelines are not permitted to terminate an employee for taking a valid medical, family, or personal leave of absence from work; and
- Fraudulent concealment: In some situations, an employee may be able to bring a claim for unlawful termination based on fraudulent concealment. Fraudulent concealment occurs when an employer intentionally misleads an employee about their job responsibilities.
Do I Have to Receive Notice Before I am Fired from My Job?
In general, no an individual does not have to receive notice before they are terminated from their job. There are, however, two exceptions.
One exception is when there is a valid employment agreement that states that the employer is required to provide notice prior to a termination. Another exception is if the termination goes against the policies that are provided in the company’s employment handbook.
In the majority of situations, however, employers are not required to provide advanced notice to employees who are being terminated.
How Can a Lawyer Help Me With My Evidence?
If you believe you have suffered a wrongful termination, you should consult with a wrongful termination attorney as soon as possible for advice. Your attorney can advise you whether you have an actionable claim, can tell you the laws that will apply in your case, and will advocate on your behalf in court against your employer if a settlement cannot be reached.