Wrongful Termination Utica
In Utica, “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 Utica 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.
Employment - Disclosure of Information - Breach of Confidence
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.
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?
Facing An Unfair Dismissal Claim?
Employment law on constructive dismissal states that claims could be based on your employer's breach of employment contract. This may involve a violation of any specific term or condition in the employment contract, the staff handbook, or the job advertisement for the position. It may also involve breach of implied terms like the employer's duty to reasonably act or duty of care towards employees.
If you think and feel that you are forced to quit your current job or that your employer is treating you badly that there is no other option but to leave, you may take advantage of the employment law on constructive dismissal. You may file for a constructive dismissal claim when you file for a resignation because of your employer's actions that practically and logically make it impossible for you to carry on your job. The employer may also be treating you severely. As the heart of the employment contract, constructive dismissal might be caused by a particular action by the employer or a series of unlikely events.
Common instances that would automatically qualify you to use the employment law on constructive dismissal include changing of your job description, abrupt cutting of your pay, and sudden alteration of working location or hours, and refusal of the employer to improve inhumane or intolerable working conditions. Breaches of implied terms in fundamental employment contracts usually include the employer making it impossible for you to perform your job tasks or failing to give reasonable support for you to do your job without any disruption. Employment law on constructive dismissal even covers any form of harassment from your fellow workers and wrong/unfounded accusations of theft.
To be able to qualify, you must have been employed by the employer for at least a year. However, if the employment has not reached that required period yet but you have evidences that could prove you were dismissed automatically due to unfair reasons, you could still take advantage of this employment law. How could you file for any dismissal claim? If you think you could no longer stand how your employer treats you, file a formal grievance at once. Explain why you are anxious and unhappy with your work. Under normal grievance procedures, the employer has up to 28 days to respond to your grievance. Experts advise that you try to be as flexible as you could be as well as constructive and reasonable in trying to reach a resolution for your problem with your employer. A compromise agreement may be a viable option.
You may not be covered by the employment law on constructive dismissal if you have entered into a compromise agreement with your employer. But that does not mean you would not be entitled to any form of compensation. That is why you should hire the best and most reliable employment solicitors around. You definitely need sufficient and helpful guidance and advice when applying for constructive dismissal claims and signing compromise agreements so you could make sure you would be able to protect your welfare.