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How to tell if you’ve been wrongfully fired from your job

If you were suddenly fired, it can sometimes be difficult to tell whether your termination was just unfair or outright illegal.

If it was illegal, you have the right to file a wrongful termination lawsuit. Here are some things you should know.

1. There are all sorts of unfair reasons you can be legally fired.

  • Your boss simply doesn’t like you.
  • Your supervisor has a favorite employee — and you aren’t it. If you get into a power struggle with the wrong person, you can find yourself looking for a new job.
  • You took a leave of absence that wasn’t protected by law. A lot of people think that bereavement leave is automatic only to find out that they left town for their mother’s funeral and came back to a pink slip.
  • You called off sick for minor illnesses or child care issues too often.
  • You violated the company’s social media policy and posted something online that you shouldn’t have.
  • In the absence of a social media policy, you can still get fired for disparaging your employer or customers — unless you’re discussing workplace conditions or problems with other employees.

2. Discrimination and wrongful termination often go together.

Discrimination based on the protected characteristics or classes mentioned previously is often behind a successful wrongful termination suit.

For example, age discrimination can happen when a 45-year-old employee is told that his position has been eliminated and he’s being laid off. However, he finds out later that the exact same job is being performed — under a new title — by a 23-year-old new hire.

3. Being “forced to quit” is a subtle form of wrongful termination.

Sometimes companies try to get an employee to quit — in order to weaken any claim of wrongful termination. For example, imagine that the same 45-year-old employee is told his position has been “restructured out” and his job duties reassigned to several other (conveniently younger) employees. He isn’t fired, however. Instead, he’s moved to a basement storage room and given menial, mind-numbing work with no contact with his co-workers. If he hangs in there, his bosses begin issuing increasingly petty demands or criticisms of his work. Eventually, a reasonable person would probably quit — which is what his employer hopes.

Anyone who is unsure if he or she has been fired unfairly or unlawfully is well-advised to seek legal advice before deciding what to do next.

Source: FindLaw, “Was I Wrongfully Discharged From My Job?,” accessed Jan. 04, 2018