What is Wrongful Termination?

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You might be familiar with the term “wrongful termination” in employment law, but what does it truly mean?

Broadly speaking, wrongful termination occurs when an employee is fired from their job for an illegal reason. That illegal reason could be a violation of state or federal anti-discrimination laws or a breach of contract. 

Employees cannot be fired for:

  • Race
  • Gender
  • Religion 
  • Disability
  • Ethnic background

In addition, employers cannot terminate an employee’s employment because the employee issued a formal complaint against the employer or because the employee became a whistleblower by bringing to light potential wrongdoing by an employer.

Over the past two decades, termination lawsuits against employers have jumped by 230%, illustrating the significant uptick in wrongful termination cases.  

Can Layoffs Be Considered Wrongful Termination?

In 2022, we’ve seen a massive wave of corporate layoffs. An uncertain economic environment, coupled with ongoing global volatility and the ongoing pandemic, has created an unstable employment environment. In the tech sector alone, over 85,000 people have lost their jobs this year in the United States. 

Many people think that if they are part of a layoff, they aren’t able to file a wrongful termination suit. However, that’s not the case. Unfortunately, employers sometimes disguise a wrongful termination with a layoff. 

Employers who lay off employees due to the reasons listed above (race, gender, disability, etc.) are very much at risk of a wrongful termination lawsuit. However, it’s imperative to note that the terms of a severance agreement can dictate whether or not you have a right to sue. Some severance agreements include a clause that releases the employer from future litigation, so review the terms carefully before you sign any type of severance agreement.  

How to File a Wrongful Termination Suit

If you believe you have been the victim of a wrongful termination, reach out to an attorney. An attorney can evaluate your claims and help you decide the best path forward. You and your attorney will review several key factors, like loss of income, emotional distress, and loss of benefits. The vast majority of wrongful termination cases settle outside of court, but there are occasions when these cases go to trial. 

If you have questions about wrongful termination, please reach out to us. Our team has decades of experience advocating for employees who were wrongfully terminated.

The information contained herein is for general purposes only and does not constitute legal advice.

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