How do I know if I’ve been wrongfully terminated?

Employers must follow the law when firing an employee; failure to do so may open the employer to liability for wrongful termination.

In an at-will employment state, like Pennsylvania, you may think that an employer may fire an employee for any reason (or for no reason) at any time. The common belief is that an employer as the right to fire an employee on a whim. However, this is not true, there are certain circumstances in which an employer may not fire an employee and doing so is in violation of the law. Some reasons include breaching an employment contract, retaliation in response to a legal employee action or for a discriminatory reason. If you recently lost your job and are questioning whether your employer's actions were legal, there are certain questions you should consider.

Questions to ask if you suspect wrongful discharge

  1. Do you have an employment contract? If the answer is yes, was your termination in violation of any elements of your contract? If your contract contains an expiration date, were you terminated in violation of that date?
  2. Do you have any other claims against your employer? Such as a workers' compensation claim or sexual harassment claim filed prior to being terminated.
  3. Have you reported any illegal activity on the part of your employer? If you have and were subsequently fired, this could be in retaliation to your activity. This is also called whistle blowing.
  4. Are you a member of a protected class and do you have any reason to believe you have been discriminated against by your employer? An employer may not discriminate against an employee based on race, national origin, gender, age, religion, disability, color or pregnancy. Sexual orientation or identity has been added to this list by many states as well.

In addition, it is unlawful to terminate an employee for taking legally permissible time off. Some examples of legally permissible time off are for military service, jury duty, voting and FMLA leave.

If you have been wrongfully terminated you may be entitled to compensation such as back pay, front pay, reinstatement, promotion, punitive damages and attorney's fees.

If you answered yes, contact an attorney

If you answered yes to any of the questions above, it is important to contact an attorney. Proving a wrongful termination case can be difficult and complex. If you feel you were wrongfully discharged from your job, speak to an experienced attorney at Samuel J. Cordes & Associates. Specific factors must be met in a wrongful termination case. It is best to consult with an attorney to discuss your circumstances in order to evaluate your case and the best cause of action to help you protect your rights. Call 866-570-1680 to answer your questions and so we can learn more about your situation and how best to help.

Keywords: wrongful termination, at-will employment, employee rights