When dismissed from a job, every person goes through a phase that no one word can describe. Most people experience an emotional rollercoaster with loads of sadness, disappointment, and anger.
Once you are out of the shock, you should try to understand the reasons behind your termination. Did your employer clearly mention the reason for firing you? If not, can an employee be terminated without any reason whatsoever? Finally, as a victim of unjust firing, are you entitled to initiate legal action against your employer?
If you think you are a victim of wrongful termination, mentioned below are some guidelines for you to follow.
Keep Your Calm: Though your situation could be extremely difficult, but try to think back and figure out if there was a reason for the employer to let you go. Were the termination reasons properly explained to you by the HR during the exit formalities?
If you can’t think of a reason, get in touch with a colleague that you trust and go over everything. They can provide you an assessment of the entire incident from a neutral perspective while supporting you. A quick chat can give you clearer idea about your firing.
Check Your Contract: The next task for you is to carefully go through your contract and find out whether it covers the reason for your termination. For example, if you were terminated based on performance issues and the same isn’t listed on the contract, you may have a legal recourse here.
On the other hand, if you have signed contract for an ‘at-will’ employment, the company is well within its rights to fire you, even if there are no specific reasons. However, there are certain exceptions to this type of employment. For example, a pregnant woman can’t be terminated for taking maternity leave, even if she had signed an ‘at-will’ employment contract.
Unfair Dismissal: After checking your contract thoroughly, if you still can’t find out why you were terminated, chances are that you have been dismissed in an unfair manner. This covers many different situations including
- After the successful completion of a probationary period, the contract promises job security.
- An employee is fired with the intention of preventing him or her from receiving a promised promotion or commission.
- Termination of an employee for taking paternity or maternity leave.
- Termination of an employee that was involved in exposing malpractices of the company.
- Termination based on discriminatory reasons such as sex, race, age, or religion.
Unfair dismissal from a job also covers forcing an employee to terminate his or her job contract because of the behavior of the employer or the job environment.
Legal Action: If you are convinced that you have been wrongfully terminated or dismissed in an unfair manner, the dismissal can be challenged in several ways. If you are looking to sue your employer, you must be well prepared to present evidence related to your employment history. Ideally, this should include a copy of the contract, reviews of your performance from the past, and even the emails exchanged between you and the employer.
If you are not able to or don’t want to hire a lawyer, your discrimination complaint can still be filed at the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. This, however, requires that you were terminated on discriminatory grounds. While looking for a new job and waiting for the court’s decision, you may also file for unemployment insurance. However, check the rules of your state to make sure that you are eligible for the same.