Wrongful Termination Lawyer Cost Smithtown

Wrongful Termination Smithtown

In Smithtown, “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 Smithtown 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.


Suing An Employer For Wrongful Termination

At Will Employment and How to File a Wrongful Termination Lawsuit

Have you ever felt like storming into your manager’s office and saying, "I've had enough and I quit!"? If so, you’re not alone: Many employees quit or resign because their working conditions have grown intolerable. If you were forced to quit your job due to illegal working conditions, it’s called a “constructive discharge.” If your employer tried to push you out for illegal reasons, you may have grounds for a wrongful termination lawsuit, even if you technically quit your job.

What Is Constructive Discharge?

When you quit or resign from your job because you were subjected to illegal working conditions that were so intolerable that you felt you had no other choice, it’s called a constructive discharge. Even though you quit, the law treats you as if you were fired, because your employer essentially forced you out. Proving You Were Forced to Quit To prove a claim of constructive discharge, you generally have to show all of the following:
  • You were subjected to illegal working conditions or treatment at work (such as sexual harassment or retaliation for complaining of workplace safety violations).
  • You complained to your supervisor, boss, or human resources department, but the mistreatment continued.
  • The mistreatment was so intolerable that any reasonable employee would quit rather than continue to work in that environment.
  • You quit because of the mistreatment.

For instance, say a male coworker is making sexual advances toward you or makes sexually explicit comments to you frequently at work, even though you've asked him to stop. You report his behavior to your supervisor and to the human resources manager, who both ignore your complaints. After several weeks, nothing has changed; your employer hasn't done anything to stop your coworker, who continues to harass you. Finally, you've had enough of the mistreatment and you quit. In such circumstances, you would probably have a good claim for constructive discharge.

If, on the other hand, you quit two days after you made your first complaint to the boss, you likely would not be able to prove constructive discharge. You must give your employer a chance to fix the problem rather than quitting at the first sign of trouble.

If you win a constructive discharge case, you will be entitled to money damages from your employer.

Proving Your Discharge Was Illegal

Most employees in this country work at will, which means they can be fired at any time, for any reason that is not illegal. It’s not enough to prove you were compelled to quit: You must also prove that your employer’s reason for forcing you out was illegal. If you felt compelled to quit because your manager was a bully who made work life miserable for everyone, for example, you wouldn’t necessarily have a constructive discharge claim. But if you quit because your manager bullied and berated you because of your disability, you likely have a strong legal claim.

Here are some common wrongful termination claims that come up in constructive discharge situations:
  • Discrimination and harassment. If you quit because you were being discriminated against or harassed due to a protected characteristic (such as your race or religion), you have a wrongful termination claim.
  • Retaliation. If your employer forces you to quit because you complained about illegal workplace behavior (such as discrimination, harassment, failure to pay overtime, and so on), you have grounds for a lawsuit. The same is true if your employer pushes you out because you exercised your legal rights, such as your right to take time off work under the Family and Medical Leave Act, your right to join a union or discuss union matters with other employees, or your right to refuse to work in dangerous conditions.
  • Breach of contract. If you have an employment contract stating you may be fired only for good cause, and your employer forces you to quit, you can sue your employer for not honoring the contract.

Damages for Constructive Discharge

If you win a constructive discharge case, you will be entitled to money damages from your employer. The damages available depend on the legal claims you can make—that is, they depend on the reason why your employer forced you out. Depending on the facts, you may be entitled to:

  • Back Pay - The wages or benefits you lost as a result of being forced to quit
  • Front Pay - The wages or benefits you will lose going forward, until you find a new job
  • Attorneys’ Fees And Court Costs
  • Compensatory Damages - Compensation for the pain and suffering or mental distress you experienced because of the discharge, and/or
  • Punitive Damages - An award intended to punish your employer for especially egregious misconduct.

Constructive discharge cases can be hard to prove. You must show not only that your employer acted illegally, but also that the behavior was bad enough to compel a reasonable employee to quit. Courts tend to hold employees to a very high standard here, requiring proof that your working conditions were truly intolerable. To figure out whether you have strong legal claims, you’ll probably need to talk to an experienced employment lawyer.

Unemployment Benefits

In general, employees are typically not eligible to collect unemployment when they quit their jobs voluntarily. However, if you were forced to quit in a constructive discharge, you should still qualify for unemployment benefits. When you file your claim for benefits, explain that you were compelled to quit due to your employer’s mistreatment. (For more information, see Unemployment Compensation When You’ve Lost Your Job.)

Questions for Your Attorney

  • How long do I have to file a lawsuit against my former employer for constructive discharge?
  • Should I accept my employer's offer to rehire me if I win my constructive discharge suit?
  • How long will my lawsuit take? Do I have to take a job that pays less than my former job while the case is pending?

What is Wrongful Termination?

Sue Your Employer For Wrongful Termination Has your employment been terminated? Do you think it was a wrongful termination? Knowing the employment law is vital to understand your legal rights. Florida is one of a number of states where individuals work at-will. This means that an employer can fire someone at anytime, for any reason, or for no reason at all. Seeking the advice of a Florida employment attorney can be beneficial in getting a valid claim initiated as each step of a case has specific timelines in which actions must be accomplished.Florida has no law dedicated to wrongful termination, but there are state and federal labor laws that do protect employees from a wrongful dismissal based on certain criteria and circumstances. But laws can be changed, modified, or added at any time by the government and the Florida judicial system. A knowledgeable and experienced wrongful termination lawyer can explain all of your legal rights and what is needed to present your case for a favorable resolution.FEDERAL EMPLOYMENT LAWS The Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 prohibit discrimination based on an employee's race, color, age, religion, sex, and national origin.The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 prohibits discrimination based on an employee's disability or against someone who is believed to have a disability.The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) of 1938 has been amended overtime and today includes prohibited discrimination against an employee based on marital status, citizenship status, and pregnancy.The FLSA guarantees employees certain workplace rights that employers cannot violate. Two examples of employees' rights are: the ability to assemble to form a union and to be paid an overtime rate for hourly employees working more than 40 per week. It is illegal for an employer to discriminate against or dismiss employees for asserting their rights as allowed by law or statue.FLORIDA EMPLOYMENT LAWSIn addition to discriminatory classes prohibited by Federal laws, Florida law makes it illegal to discriminate or dismiss someone based on having AIDS/HIV or sickle cell trait.Florida law enforces all Federal law and prohibits discriminatory employment actions if an employer has at least 15 employees. In Florida, an employee must be at least 40 for an allegation of age discrimination and there must be at least 20 individuals employed. An employer only has to have four employees for a wrongful termination based on citizenship status.Employees with employment contracts may not be at-will employees. If the contract specified in writing that they will not be fired during a certain period of time and then were fired during this timeframe, it may be a breach of contract claim.Florida allows terminated employees to file a lawsuit for fraud, emotional distress, injuries and violation of public and federal policies. These types of cases are called Tort and become personal injury cases. ADDITIONAL LABOR LAWSBoth Federal and Florida employment law makes it illegal for an employer to discriminate against personnel who exercise their rights to be absent from the workplace due to mandatory active duty military leave, jury duty, and to care for serous medical situations involving themselves or family members, as defined by the Family Medical Leave Act of 1993.Anyone who decides to file a claim for wrongful termination must file with a government agency before pursuing a personal lawsuit. On a Federal level, a claim can be filed with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, and in Florida, it would be the Florida Commission on Human Relations.If you believe that you were wrongfully dismissed; today would be the best time to talk with a wrongful termination lawyer.