Wrongful terminations happen more often than you might think. Companies may tell an employee that they are cutting back payroll, that the employee’s performance wasn’t up to par, or simply that the company is headed in a different direction.
However, the motives behind some of these seemingly valid terminations may include retaliation, discrimination, disinterest in making work accommodations for a person with disabilities, and many more protected class scenarios under Indiana’s employment laws.
Recognizing that you were the victim of wrongful termination can be challenging without an expert opinion. It’s always a good idea to discuss suspected wrongful termination with an employment law attorney. Your attorney can pull together details about your termination to determine whether or not you may have an action to pursue against your employer.
Here are some common examples of wrongful termination. If you’ve experienced a situation even remotely similar to one of these instances, consider seeking legal counsel.
1. Employee Reports Sexual Harassment to HR
Sexual harassment is not permitted in the workplace. Once an employee makes it clear that another person’s sexual advancements are not welcomed, that person must stop. If they don’t, their behavior could be considered sexual harassment.
An employee should be able to report sexual harassment to their employer without the risk of retaliation. Policies like this help protect employees and allow management to learn about problems within their organization. This also provides employers with an opportunity to correct a hostile work environment that may exist.
So, if an employee reports sexual harassment to management or HR and then gets terminated shortly thereafter, that employee might be the victim of wrongful termination in the form of retaliation.
2. Employee Over the Age of 40 Gets Terminated to Bring in Younger Staff
Age discrimination can be quite apparent in the workplace. For example, when something goes wrong on a project, does the management treat younger employees the same way that they do older employees? If not, there might be age discrimination within the workplace.
Terminating an employee over the age of 40 to make room for younger staff members is not appropriate. Of course, if an employee over the age of 40 is not meeting the standard of work for their role or is unable to reach performance goals, their termination might be valid. But when it is based entirely on the person’s age, this is considered age discrimination and is a form of wrongful termination.
3. Employee Is Fired Over a Wage or Hour Dispute
Employees have a right to fight for fair wages. If an employee is participating in a wage or hour dispute or is standing up to the company to recover unpaid wages, overtime, or commissions and is terminated in the process, the employee might have a wrongful termination case.
You should be able to raise concerns about compensation without the threat of termination. The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) outlines how issues of wage and hour disputes should be handled. Termination of employment should never be a consequence of raising concerns over proper compensation.
4. Pregnant Employee Is Terminated Once Pregnancy Becomes Public
Employees who are pregnant are in a protected class, meaning employers cannot terminate their employment simply because the employee is pregnant. Some employers might see pregnancy as a hindrance to productivity, especially if the employee takes 12 weeks of maternity leave as they have a right to do.
Red flags that your termination might be related to your pregnancy can be that you had no performance improvement plan before being terminated. Or that the termination took place shortly after you announce your pregnancy in the workplace.
5. People of Other Races Are Treated Poorly in the Workplace
Racial bias in the workplace is still, sadly, relatively common. If you were recently terminated and you saw signs that your manager treated you differently than other employees or set different expectations for you, you might be the victim of wrongful termination.
The first step in your racial discrimination case for wrongful termination would be to file a claim with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). You should also discuss the matter with an attorney that specializes in employment law. Your attorney can offer guidance through the process and assist with your EEOC filing, which could serve as further evidence of discrimination during your wrongful termination case.
6. Employer Doesn’t Want to Make Accommodations for Disabilities
People with disabilities are in a protected class. This means that employers cannot terminate these employees just because they have a disability. So if an employee suffers an injury and must use a wheelchair, the employer cannot terminate that employee just because they don’t want to make reasonable accommodations.
Instead, the employer should first offer the employee an adjusted role, if possible. They can also make adjustments to desk arrangements that allow the employee to continue their employment.
Red flags that your termination might be due to disability include rude comments to people with disabilities in the workplace, unreasonable expectations for disabled workers, or clear bias against disabled workers.
Hiring a Wrongful Termination Lawyer
Losing your job is never easy, but it’s especially devastating to be terminated unfairly. You must find a wrongful termination lawyer quickly after you’ve been fired so that the details of your termination are still fresh in your mind. The more information you can share with your lawyer, the better you’ll set yourself up for success.
Stewart & Stewart offers powerful, dedicated legal counsel for wrongful termination victims. We’d love to hear from you, even if you’re not completely sure whether you’ve been wrongfully terminated. Contact us to schedule a free consultation.