Getting fired is a crummy situation for anyone. It’s a hit to your self-esteem, not to mention your income and future plans. You might be sad. You might be angry. You might have a reason to be angry. Getting fired is always much worse when it’s for the wrong reasons. And it doesn’t always have to do with EEOC-related biases. In fact, many of the worst cases of wrongful termination have nothing to do with a person’s appearance, identity, or background. Often, it’s much more sinister than that.
Today, we’re here to talk about types of wrongful termination that -aren’t- the go-to EEOC examples.
EEOC Cases Have Become a Stereotype.
Usually, when you hear about wrongful termination, the topic always heavily focuses on bias. Gender, race, religion, sexuality. These are all hot-button issues. But employers also use these common cases to try and degrade the entire idea of a wrongful termination case. A woman who is fired and files for wrongful termination is automatically assumed to be accusing her boss of misogyny. An openly religious person is assumed to file only on the grounds of religious discrimination. This isn’t to say that people aren’t still fired for these bad reasons, they are. But when employers break real rules and hurt people with their management and choices (instead of their prejudice), they will often try to play off their wrongdoing by suggesting that the employee is just trying to play the race/woman/religion “card”.
EEOC-type wrongful termination cases have become a problematic stereotype. Especially if you are one of the many people who was wrongfully terminated for something completely unrelated to your gender, color, etc. And when this is true, bringing your EEOC status into the picture is just adding insult to injury. Which was what they meant to do in the first place.
Your Employer Broke Contract
If you have a written or verbal contract including a minimum employment period and were fired before that period was up, then your termination was wrongful. Both employees and employers are bound by employment contracts. And while you may have been hired ‘at-will’, if the contract says you had 6 months to get your feet under you and that was cut short, you have a valid case.
Your Employer Defied Their Own Handbook
Your employer not only has to follow federal and state laws and their own contracts, they also have to follow their own employee handbook. If the handbook says that you will get 3 warnings before risk of termination, or that you would get a PIP period before firing, then they are obligated to discipline every employee with the same defined procedure. If the procedure was changed to boot you out the door, you have been wrongfully terminated.
You Were a Whistle-Blower
Whistle-blower laws define that an employer loses their right to fire you at-will after you have filed a legitimate whistle-blower style report. You may have reported misconduct, reg violations, unsafe work environments, or a variety of problems with your workplace. But your employer is -not- allowed to fire you in order to make their problem go away or punishing you for filing a report.
Anyone in whistle-blower status if very likely to have a legitimate claim of wrongful termination if fired.
You Refused to Follow Illegal Orders
Sometimes, employers ask their staff to do illegal things. Like ‘fudge’ a financial report, ‘lose’ a piece of paperwork, or babysit the boss’ kids off the books. As a law-abiding person, it is your duty and right to refuse these orders and remind anyone involved that they are trying to break the law. If you are fired for refusing to do illegal things for your employer, or for pointing out an order’s illegality, this is wrongful termination.
You Filed a Worker’s Compensation Claim
A very common situation is when an employer tries to fire someone after they have been injured on the job. Sometimes even before they have a chance to file a worker’s compensation claim. They do this to save their precious insurance premium costs, which are placed above the value of your life and wellbeing. If you have been injured at work and were then fired (or driven to quit with intolerable working conditions), then you have been wrongfully terminated.
You Were Fired for Taking Protected Time Off (FMLA)
The final alternative form of wrongful termination relates to FMLA and military duty leave. Both are unpaid leave, meaning your employer isn’t losing any money while you take time off to care for family or return to military duty. If you have to be gone for a month or more, your employer is allowed to hire someone to pick up the slack at work. But they are not allowed to fire you or give someone else your actual position because you needed necessary time off.
Wrongful termination comes in so many shapes and sizes, and the EEOC-related biases are only a small part of that. If you have been wrongfully terminated — for any reason — please contact us today. Here at Aiman-Smith & Marcy, we are dedicated to standing up for employers who have been mistreated by businesses that think they can get away with it. Don’t let your employer get away with it. Not just for you, but for the others your employer will mistreat in the future if they’re not stopped now.