Wrongful Termination Tonawanda
In Tonawanda, “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 Tonawanda 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.
Wrongful Termination - Understanding Your Legal Rights
The Employment Tribunal is a new government organization that was established in April 2006. This Tribunal is designed to be a judicial body to determine arguments between employees and their employers over rights.
Anyone, employees and employers alike, is able to submit a claim through the Employment Tribunal. In addition, if you have multiple claim submissions, you can submit them at one time online.
Responding and Making Claims
Prior to making a claim, you need to ensure that you have the right to do so. Depending on the nature of your claim, it can go to one of three commissions designed to deal with the claim. The Sexual Discrimination Equal Opportunities Commission deals with gender and sexual discrimination claims. The Race Discrimination Commission for Racial Equality handles the race discrimination claims. Disability Discrimination Disability Rights Commission manages the claims of those who say they have discriminated against because of their physical, mental and emotional disabilities.
Also before making a claim, you have free services such as legal advice and other professional services. These services will provide you with information and guidance to making your claim so that you can respond to or make your claim accurately and honestly.
Once your claim has been made, you wait until it gets heard. During this time, the claimant or respondent may wish to gather more information to build their case against or defence of the claim. The Employment Tribunal strongly recommends that this be done in writing so that it cannot be disputed later when the case is heard.
Your case may or may not be heard on the date given - some cases take longer to hear and thus push others back on the docket. However, the Employment Tribunal does try their best to ensure a timely hearing of your case. In addition, if you need more time to gather evidence for your claim, you can ask for a postponement of the hearing.
If you have a change of heart, you can also withdraw your claim. However all withdrawals must be made in writing, not only to the Employment Tribunal but also to the respondent. This is only considerate, especially if you do not have the resources, energy, or time to pursue the claim.
The Employment Tribunal
Firing employees can be a process that causes you some backlash later if you have not dotted all your i's and crossed all your t's. Of course as the boss you do have the right to hire or let go workers. With firing though, there are certain safeguards that you really need to take to ensure you are protected from an unfair dismissal claim. Know the law and protect yourself, as you can only fire a worker under the right circumstances. The law is laid out in the Employment Rights Act (1996).
It is quite a detailed and fairly clear act and states there are several circumstances where letting a person go is considered to be unquestionably unfair. If any worker is dismissed on one of the stated grounds they have a right to lay an unfair dismissal claim whether they have been working for a week or a number of years. Other grounds do exist, but they have a one- year qualifying period.
What constitutes unfair dismissal? Workers absolutely cannot be let go for participating in trade union activities or for refusing to join one. They are allowed to carry out such duties when appropriate. If a trade union worker is declared redundant, that is the basis for a claim.
Any firings based on race, colour, creed, gender or other well-known and documented human rights issues is unfair and would result in a claim almost immediately. There are two ways this could careen out of control - either a claim for unfair dismissal or a discrimination suit. The discrimination suit would be very stiff. Dismissal on the grounds of being pregnant or taking maternity leave is automatic as it is for those let go for taking parental or adoption leave.
If you sought more flexible work hours or asked for equal treatment as a part time worker and lost your job because of that, you have grounds for an unfair dismissal claim.
The number of grounds stated in the act are fairly exhaustive and do include other things like being turfed for asking for the minimum wage and asking for someone to go with you to a disciplinary hearing. The law relating to this area of employment is volatile and liquid, so it is best to keep up with what is going on. This of course is difficult to do if you are trying to run a company at the same time. Outsourcing is the perfect answer. Get professional advice from a firm that can help you through the legal jargon. Unfair dismissal cases are long and involved and can cause some serious problems for your company.