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Wrongful termination: what is it? With examples!

Wrongful termination: what is it? With examples!

Artwork by: George Mager

  • When is termination considered “wrongful”? With examples!
  • How to write a letter to appeal wrongful termination
  • Prepare your documentation
  • Writing the letter
  • Require a response timeframe
  • Include copies of your proof
  • How to defend yourself against wrongful termination
  • Key takeaways

Being terminated is never a situation anyone wants to go through. However, the suspicion of wrongful termination can make the situation that much worse. If you’ve been terminated and believe your employer may have done so illegally, this article is for you. It will cover everything you need to know about wrongful termination and show some examples!

Wrongful termination is when an employee is unjustly or unlawfully terminated from their job by an employer. It occurs when the termination violates labor laws or employment contracts and can also be retaliation for instances of whistleblowing. Discrimination can also play a role in wrongful termination.

Regardless of the cause, wrongful termination can hurt an employee’s personal and professional life. Luckily, there are legal remedies available, so it’s important to address wrongful termination as soon as possible. This article will teach you more about wrongful termination and what you can do to defend yourself. Here’s what we will cover:

  • When is termination considered “wrongful”? With examples!

  • How to write a letter to appeal wrongful termination

  • How to defend yourself against wrongful termination

When is termination considered “wrongful”? With examples!

When it comes to employment, there are many laws and regulations in place that are designed to protect employees. In addition to these laws, many employees also sign a contract with their employer before they begin working. When the laws are not followed or the contract is not honored and an employee is terminated, this can be considered “wrongful”.

Wrongful termination is also the term used to describe the firing of an employee without just cause. In many instances, this type of termination is the result of violating an employee’s civil rights. Here are some examples of wrongful termination you should be aware of:

  • Breach of contract. When an employee has a contract that outlines the specific scope of their employment and the terms under which they work, it must be honored by the employer. If it isn’t, and the employee is terminated in violation of the contract’s outline, that employee has been wrongfully terminated. 

  • Harassment/Discrimination. Hostile work environments can also result in wrongful termination situations. Employees who are subjected to negative comments about federally protected categories, such as their gender, race, and disability status, fall under the wrongful termination umbrella if they are fired for filing a complaint.

  • Whistleblowing. If employees report safety or environmental violations and are fired in retaliation, this is also an example of wrongful termination. Employees are protected when reporting instances where their employer is doing something illegal, and they cannot be fired.

  • Retaliation. Wrongful termination that involves retaliation can take many forms. For example, employees can be retaliated against for whistleblowing or for performing a federally protected right, such as voting or serving as a juror. Employees can also not be fired in retaliation when they are asked to commit an illegal act or when company policy is violated.

How to write a letter to appeal wrongful termination

After you have determined you were wrongfully terminated, one of the first steps you can take is to write a letter to appeal the decision. This letter is an official document that you write to your ex-employer to inform them that you disagree with their decision to terminate your employment. When writing your letter, here are the steps you will want to go through.

Prepare your documentation

The first step is to familiarize yourself with your employer’s policies and collect evidence related to your employment and your termination. In some instances, your former employer is legally obligated to provide you with a copy of your employment file as well as a termination letter, so be sure to request those items so you can better prepare your case.

Writing the letter

After you have your evidence and are fully aware of the situation, it’s time to write your letter. Start by addressing your letter to either the HR department, your manager, or the person who fired you. You should then detail the date you were let go as well as the name and position of the person who terminated you and the reason you were given. Finally, include all the reasons you believe you were wrongfully terminated in your letter, including any policies that were violated or examples of incidents that lead you to believe you were terminated for a prohibited reason.

Require a response timeframe

Before concluding your letter, add a timeframe for which you expect a response. Normally, you should expect a response within 30 days. If your employer doesn’t respond in that timeframe, you should consider taking advanced legal measures.

Include copies of your proof

Finally, you will need to attach copies of the evidence you have that shows you were wrongfully terminated, including evidence of anything you mentioned in the body of your letter.

Expert Tip

When sending copies, be sure to keep a copy of the documents and the letter for yourself. You may need those same documents later, so you don’t want your previous employer to have the only set of them.

How to defend yourself against wrongful termination

If you aren’t able to remedy the wrongful termination situation on your own, it may be time to take further steps, such as consulting with an attorney. When choosing an attorney to represent you, select one that has experience in wrongful termination cases because they will be able to assess your situation and give you the best advice regarding your specific case.

If you do go this route, here are some of the things you should do to help improve your chances of winning your fight against wrongful termination:

  • Official complaints. If you were fired due to discrimination, filing an official complaint with the EEOC or another government agency that handles discrimination complaints will be the first step.

  • Document all communication. Any type of email, phone call, text, or other form of communication you have during and after your time as an employee with your previous employer should be kept and documented. 

  • Create a timeline. One of the first steps you should take when your appeal is denied is to make a complete timeline of your career with your employer. Be sure to document any types of conversations, projects, meetings, and actions taken by both you and your employer leading up to your termination.

  • Contact witnesses. You should also consider contacting any witnesses that can corroborate your evidence of wrongful termination and ask if they are willing to provide statements or testify on your behalf.

Wrongful terminations often lead to employees needing to find new jobs quickly. If you find yourself in this situation, we are here to help. Stop by our services page today to learn how we can help with all areas of your job search journey.

Key takeaways

  1. When an employee is fired unjustly or illegally, they may qualify for wrongful termination protection.

  2. Breach of contract, retaliation, harassment, and being fired due to whistleblowing are all examples of wrongful termination.

  3. If you suspect wrongful termination, one of the first steps you can take is to write a letter appealing the decision.

  4. Filing a complaint, keeping records of everything, and speaking with an attorney are all things you can do when defending yourself against wrongful termination.

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