Wrongful Termination Amherst
In Amherst, “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 Amherst 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 Lawyers - Where Can I Find Them?Understanding the governing employment law is central to understanding wrongful termination. There are circumstances where employers can not fire his or her employees but termination is not at all times illegal. More often than not, people who are laid off feel that their termination is illegal, unfair or even unethical. It is in this light that one should understand the issues concerning wrongful termination.What is the Employment Law?Employment Law is an all-encompassing legal term governing the legal relationship between the employee and employer. If violation of this law occurs, the relationship of the two parties and the workplace will be affected as tensions and predicament come up. Often, companies do have their employee manuals or handbooks which are good source of the company's regulations and policies governing the employment relationship, conducts on the workplace, complaint procedures, employees rights, resignation and termination policies. What are the valid reasons for a wrongful termination?A wrongful termination takes place when an employer violates a particular state or federal law. These are the valid reasons for a wrongful termination:Discrimination on the workplaceWhen an employer fires an employee on the basis of gender, race, religion, disability or any other related reasons, the employer committed a wrongful termination because the reasons mentioned are discriminatory in nature.RetaliationRetaliation takes place when an employer fired en employee due to his or her refusal to cooperate in the illegal activity demanded by the employer or if the employee reported the illicit activity of the employer to the management.Character DefamationIf an employer defames or demeans an employee on purpose to rationalize termination, he has committed a wrongful termination.Breach of explicit or implied contractBreach of explicit or implied contract occurs when an employer terminates an employee who is under a contract and fulfilling the terms specified in the contract until the specified time frame ends. In addition, it the contract does not contain an escape clause, the said termination is likely to be a case of a wrongful termination. Breach of good faith and fair dealingThis stipulates that employees should be treated fairly, mainly if they have rendered long service to a company. As a result, employers can not discharge employees for primordial grounds like refusal to pay due rewards or giving promotions.There are also other grounds why an employee rights are violated. If you have been wrongfully terminated do not hesitate to fight for your right as an employee. The employment law protects you. Getting a good employment lawyer is a key to solving employment problems and making your workplace a more conducive and peaceful place to work in.
The Arizona Employment Protection Act and the Employment-At-Will Relationship
In Milne v Link Asset Security Company Limited , Mr Milne was employed by Link Asset Security Company Limited (LASL)from 30 September 1999 until 22 December 2003 as a broker and manager.
Mr Milne was suspended from his job by LASL on 12 December 2003, pending a disciplinary hearing on 17 December 2003. At the disciplinary hearing, issues which related to Mr Milne's performance and conduct were mentioned but without detail. Mr Milne decided not to go to a second proposed meeting on 19 December 2003 and instead resigned to avoid the embarrassment of dismissal. Mr Milne then commenced proceedings against LASL for unfair dismissal and breach of his employment contract.
The Employment Tribunal (criticised LASL's decision to suspend Mr Milne before the disciplinary hearing, the absence of an investigation before the meeting and LASL's failure to allow Mr Milne to state his case. The Employment Tribunal however found there was no breach of Mr Milne's contract of employment as a result of his suspension and the way in which the disciplinary proceedings were conducted.
Mr Milne appealed on the ground that the Employment Tribunal's decision was perverse in that it did not find that LASL was in breach of the contract of employment.
The Employment Appeal Tribunal held that:-
▪ Mr Milne had to show an overwhelming case that the Employment Tribunal made a decision that no reasonable tribunal would have reached;
▪ Suspension by itself did not constitute a breach of implied duty of trust and confidence and ultimately a fundamental breach of an employee's contract of employment;
▪ In order to determine whether a suspension constitutes a breach of the implied duty of trust and confidence, the tribunal must have considered the surrounding circumstances including
(i) the reasons for suspension
(ii) the length of suspension
(iii) whether the employee lost his income
(iv) whether the employee was replaced; and
(v) whether the contract required the employer to provide work to the employee;
▪ In this case, the suspension was short, Mr Milne was still in his job, his remuneration was not affected and LASL was keen to ensure Mr Milne stayed. There was therefore no breach of the implied duty of trust and confidence and Mr Milne had not established an overwhelming case that the Employment Tribunal had come to an unreasonable decision.
The appeal was dismissed.
Comment: If you require further information on contracts of employment please contact us.
© RT COOPERS, 2006. This Briefing Note does not provide a comprehensive or complete statement of the law relating to the issues discussed nor does it constitute legal advice. It is intended only to highlight general issues. Specialist legal advice should always be sought in relation to particular circumstances.