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Wrongful Termination–Defined

Dena Standley | July 26, 2023

Edited by Hannah Locklear

Summary: If any employer fires you for any illegal reason, you might have a case of wrongful termination. Wrongful termination may be involved if you’ve been fired for any of the following reasons: retaliation, breach of contract, refusal to commit illegal acts, whistleblowing, public policy violation, and manipulated dismissal. If you’re suffering from debt as a result of wrongful termination, SoloSuit can help you fight off debt collectors and win in court.

Wrongful termination, also referred to as wrongful dismissal or wrongful discharge, occurs when an employer relieves an employee of their duties over an illegal reason. Even though fired employees may feel they were wrongfully terminated, the reason behind it should violate state or federal laws or the contractual agreement to qualify.

Moreover, most states recognize at-will employment, meaning neither the employee nor employer requires a reason to terminate employment. Despite this allowance, termination is still considered wrongful if it meets certain legal criteria.

In this article, we will look at wrongful termination by giving examples and exploring what to do if you have been wrongfully terminated. But first, have debt collectors contacted you because you couldn't make payments after wrongful termination? SoloSuit can help you fight off debt collectors and win in court. Check out this video to learn more.

Wrongful termination examples

As mentioned earlier, some laws limit the reasons an employer can fire an employee. For instance, an employee should not be fired because of religion, race, sex, color, or national origin. Other examples of wrongful termination are as follows:

  • Retaliation: An employee is fired for reporting discriminatory acts, illegal activities in the company, exercising their legal rights, or cooperating with investigations.

  • Breach of Contract: An employer goes against a written agreement in the contract with the employee. For instance, an employer fires an employee after a verbal warning while the contract says there must be a second written warning before firing.

  • Refusal to commit illegal acts: An employer decides to fire an employee because they refused to participate in an unlawful act, such as altering account books.

  • Whistleblowing: An employee gets fired for reporting an incident involving the employer violating state or federal laws or carrying out illegal activities.

  • Public policy violation: An employer ignores mandated public policy and fires an employee who fits the policy’s criteria.

  • Manipulated dismissal: An employer creates an environment designed to frustrate the employee into quitting. For instance, the employer changed the contract terms, reduced salary, or demotion.

Now, let’s consider an example of wrongful termination due to retaliation.

Example: Teddy’s employer requested him to work overtime but did not receive reimbursement. He asked his employer severally for compensation, but he refused to honor the agreement. Teddy reported to his state's labor commission and was fired when his boss found out about it.

And here’s another example regarding public policy violation:

Example: Wendy got fired after two months of medical leave due to a severe road accident. Her employer had told her to return to work sooner, despite her doctor’s advice against it.

Your next step after wrongful termination

Are you a victim of wrongful termination? If so, you can take action to address the issue and have the employer explain to the labor department or judge why they wrongfully terminated you. As a result, you may get your job back or receive compensation. Consider the following recommendation if you have been wrongfully terminated:

  • Understand the regulations: Check the labor laws carefully and learn how wrongful termination is determined and if your case qualifies.

  • Talk to experts: Confirm your concerns with the labor department or talk to a labor union representative. They’ll help you make an informative decision on your next step.

  • Consult the human resource manager: Even if you are no longer working at the organization, it is essential to talk to the manager to tell you how the company's termination process works and if you have any benefits related to your termination.

  • Confirm if you qualify for unemployment benefits: If you were fired and did not do anything legally or contractually wrong, you might qualify for unemployment benefits. Contact your state's unemployment agency for guidance.

  • File a claim: If you are ready to take the termination to the next level, file a claim with the involved organizations or government agencies. For example, if you experienced discrimination or retaliation, file a claim with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). If you were terminated for reporting an unsafe workplace, file a complaint with Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).

Handling debt after wrongful termination

Losing your job unexpectedly can put you in a desperate position—especially if you have pending debt. Debt collectors may call if you fail to keep up with the payments. If they start contacting you, SoloSuit can help you deal with them.

For instance, try sending a Debt Validation Letter to get the debt collectors off your back for some time as they work on verifying that the debt is yours. If you’ve been sued for a debt, it’s important to respond with a written Answer as soon as possible. You can also settle your debt for less negotiating a payment plan or a lump-sum pay off.

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