Wrongful Termination Schenectady
In Schenectady, “employment-at-will” laws mean that employers can terminate the employee at any time for any reason. Likewise, an employee may decide to quit for any reason – or for no reason at all – without warning. These laws mean that, in most cases, you do not have legal recourse if you have been discharged from your job, even if there didn’t seem to be any basis for the termination.
In certain cases, however, employment termination is an actionable offense. These scenarios include:
- You were terminated because of illegal discrimination
- Your termination was a form of employer retaliation
- You were discharged in an attempt to prevent you from collecting or obtaining deserved benefits
There are several other situations that could constitute wrongful termination. If you have reason to believe that you were discharged for an illegal reason or on the basis of discriminatory action on the part of your employer, it is crucial that you seek experienced counsel from one of our employment lawyers who is thoroughly familiar with this field of law. You could be entitled to monetary benefits.
Our wrongful terminations attorneys have represented numerous victims of wrongful termination and are prepared to put this experience to work for you. Get help from a firm that is solely dedicated to protecting the rights of workers, unlike other firms in the area.
Call 855-596-4657 today to set up an initial case consultation at the firm’s Schenectady location.
What Is a Wrongful Termination?
A wrongful termination is any firing that is illegal. A firing is illegal when it:
- Violates a federal, state, or local law, or
- Violates an employment contract.
Just because a termination is unfair doesn’t make it illegal. For example, it might be unfair for your boss to fire you so he can hire his inexperienced niece or nephew. However, because there’s no law against nepotism, you wouldn’t have a wrongful termination claim.
Violation of Federal, State, or Local Laws
The default rule in the United States is “at-will employment.” This means employers can fire employees at any time, for any reason. However, there is one important exception to this rule. Employers cannot fire at-will employees for illegal reasons. Federal, state, and local laws carve out a handful of reasons that are illegal. For example, it’s illegal to fire employees due to their race or gender.
Violation of Employment Contract
Employees no longer work at-will when they have an employment contract. We usually think of employment contracts as being written, but they can also be formed by words and actions. (See our article explaining how employers create employment contracts and alter at-will employment.) A contract employee cannot be fired if it would violate the terms of the contract. Typically, this means that employers cannot fire employees with having a good reason (called “cause”) before the term of the contract is up. Employers also can’t fire contract employees in violation of state, federal, or local laws.
How Do I File a Wrongful Termination Claim?
If your wrongful termination claim is based on discrimination or harassment, you will need to file an administrative complaint first (called a “charge”). You must typically file your charge with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC)—or a state agency that enforces antidiscrimination laws—within 180 days of the discrimination or harassment. The EEOC or the state agency will investigate your complaint and decide whether to take action. Most of the time, the EEOC will simply issue a “right-to-sue” letter, which allows you to file your wrongful termination lawsuit in court.
The process of filing an EEOC charge is relatively simple. You can file your claim in person at one of the EEOC’s local field offices or you can file your claim by mail. To file by mail, send a letter to the EEOC with your contract information, your employer’s contact information, an explanation of how you were discriminated against or harassed, and when these events happened. You must also sign your letter.
While you don’t need a lawyer to file an administrative charge, it’s often helpful to do so, especially if you plan on filing a lawsuit down the road. Once you file your claim, the EEOC will speak to you, your employer, and any relevant witnesses. The information that the EEOC gathers can be used as evidence in your subsequent wrongful termination lawsuit. The EEOC may also try to facilitate a settlement negotiation between you and your employer. A wrongful termination lawyer will ensure that you’re receiving a fair offer and that you don’t give up any rights that you shouldn’t.
For most other types of wrongful terminations claims, you aren’t required to file a claim with an administrative agency first (although you may have the option). You can go straight to filing a lawsuit in court. For this, you will almost certainly need the assistance of an employment lawyer.
A Primer on Wrongful TerminationWhen you lose your job, regardless of whether you were fired or laid off, it's always hard to understand your employer's reason behind it. After doing some soul searching what if you realize you were let go for an unlawful reason? If this is the case of you, then you have the right to bring a wrongful termination claim against your former employer. What does this mean? You can get money damages, severance packages and other compensation. Follow this guide from a civil rights attorney to see if you lost your job due to a wrongful termination and what you can do about it.What is the definition of "Wrongful Termination?"If you have been let go or fired from your job for an illegal reason then you have been wrongfully terminated. Some of the illegal reasons for losing your job may include: Firing you based on your race, gender, sexual orientation and other discriminatory reasons.Firing you because you refused sexual advances and other sexual harassment reasons.Firing you despite previous oral and written employment agreements.Firing in retaliation for any complaints you have made against the employer.If any of these apply to you, then you might be entitled to a money payment based on your lost wages and other expenses you accrued from being terminated. Also depending on the case, you might be entitled to get payments from your employer and also from the person who fired you.What To Do If You've Been FiredIgnore any ill feelings you have towards your employer. Don't do something that you might regret and hinder your case.Contact a civil rights attorney for advice and representation.Find your contract and go over it thoroughly. Make sure you understand all the fine print.Get a letter in writing from your employer about why you were terminated. And ask who was the person that decided that you were to be fired.Think of any promises the employer made to you and see if they followed through on any of them.Make sure you return any company property.Do not allow yourself to be intimidated. A good civil rights attorney will be there for you every step of the way helping you build you case.Request A Severance Package Technically, an employer doesn't have to give a fired or laid off employee a severance package if their contract does not stipulate it. However, if the employee feels they have been wrongfully terminated, they can negotiate a severance package with the company in exchange for not filing charges against the employer.An employment attorney can explain your options and help your decide whether negotiation a severance package or a wrongful termination claim will make more sense in your situation.If you feel that have been fired for an illegal reason, you may have rights to severance pay, damages, or unemployment compensation. Speaking with an experience civil rights attorney can help you understand your rights and make an informed decision about how to proceed.
3 Common Employment Law Questions Answered
It seems that most employment law legislation is designed to make life harder for the employer and easier for every member of staff. From maternity laws to unfair dismissal, most laws seem weighted against the employer.
That was certainly the case when the statutory grievance and disciplinary procedures came into force in 2004. They made it simple for an employee to make a claim for unfair dismissal. If an employer made even one mistake in following a grievance or disciplinary procedure, evidence of the mistake was enough to allow the employee to make a claim for unfair dismissal, even if the reasons for dismissal were genuine. This led to many claims for compensation being paid out when, had the correct procedure been followed, this might not have been the case. For small employers this burden and the costs of the compensation claims were often too much to bear.
Sense has now finally prevailed, after much stress caused to employers, solicitors and Employment Law Tribunals, and the Employment Act 2008 finally obtained Royal Assent recently. This will come into force on 6th April 2009 and will redress the balance in these situations so that all the weight does not fall onto the shoulders of the employer.
When the Employment Act 2008 comes into force the previous statutory grievance and disciplinary procedures will be repealed. The Employment Law Tribunal will now examine the facts of the case to see whether the employee followed the ACAS Code of Practice in a grievance or disciplinary procedure. Failure to follow the procedure now will not lead to an automatic unfair dismissal but to an increase in the amount of any compensation awarded of up to 25%. However, the employee will now be able to argue that even if they had followed the procedure, the employee would still have been dismissed. If they are successful, the amount of any award can be reduced by as much as 100%.
This will make a significant difference to employers and could save hundreds of thousands of pounds of compensation for employers that cannot afford it, especially when technically they have done nothing wrong.