In the United States, everyone has the right to employment and protection from unfair treatment by employers. Nonetheless, each year there are countless civil complaints filed between an employee and employer, with one of the most common being a wrongful termination case.
How do you know if you were fired from a job illegally? Does discrimination or harassment constitute a wrongful termination? How does Indiana go about evaluating wrongful termination cases, along with the rest of the country?
Work-related incidents like wrongful termination usually require the assistance of a knowledgeable attorney. The laws involving wrongful termination are complicated and often not easy to prove in the courts.
Wrongful Termination vs. “At-Will” Employment
For the most part, the United States structures its workplace laws around the rights of the employer. While there is no federal law on wrongful termination, every state has a framework for how it handles wrongful termination cases.
Indiana, like most states in the country, upholds what is known as “at-will” employment. This means that an employer has the discretion to hire and fire their workers at any time, without the need to provide a good reason for the termination. Furthermore, employers do not need to give advanced warning or fair procedures for the firing.
“At-will” employment makes it difficult for former employees to file a lawsuit against the company for wrongful termination. However, there are many exceptions to the rule, but hiring an attorney is usually necessary to navigate the complex legal framework.
Consequently, a termination only meets the legal definition of “wrongful” if it is determined to be illegal in the eyes of the law. For example, the termination could violate an employment agreement. It could also violate a federal or state law, which is a more serious matter.
Written Promises vs. Implied Promises
Since “at-will” employment makes it difficult to prove wrongful termination in states like Indiana, most clients need to start with evaluating the type of employment agreement they were under before the dismissal.
There is an advantage to landing a job with a written promise such as a contract. Any statement that promises you job security gives you far more rights if you wish to pursue a wrongful termination lawsuit. These workers can argue that they are not considered “at-will” employees, and therefore have a stronger case.
Other types of jobs that may grant you some rights during a wrongful termination case are those with implied promises. In these instances, the employee may not have a written agreement with the employer yet received verbal promises of job stability.
It is much more difficult to prove that a job with an implied promise does not have the traditional “at-will” agreement. Regardless, you should pursue a wrongful termination case if you believe you are a victim of any of the following:
- Breaches of Good Faith and Fair Dealing
- Violations of Public Policy
- Whistle-Blowing Violations
Speak to an attorney at Stewart & Stewart if you believe you are a victim of wrongful termination. We can discuss the details of your termination and the chances of receiving a favorable outcome in a court of law.
Discrimination and Harassment
Discrimination and harassment are two of the most common types of wrongful termination. You may pursue damages if you are a victim of harassment or discrimination, even if you worked for an “at-will” employer.
Discrimination is not tolerated in any form in the workplace and violates federal and state laws. Therefore, it is illegal, regardless of the type of employer.
Harassment is also incredibly damaging to the victim, and the distress is only amplified if he or she is released from their duties.
In order to receive a favorable outcome in a wrongful termination lawsuit, you will need to prove that something illegal occurred. The attorneys of Stewart & Stewart are experienced in wrongful termination litigation and can help examine your case.
Breaches of Good Faith and Fair Dealing
Despite the fact that laws are aligned to favor employers over employees – there are many ways to argue that an organization violated your rights, even if the work agreement was considered “at-will.”
Breaches of good faith and fair dealing simply mean that the employer acted unfairly. It may occur in several ways, including misleading workers about promotions, sales commissions, or wage increases.
Additionally, employers that fabricate reasons for firing an employee or practically force someone into resignation are grounds for wrongful termination.
Retaliation and Whistle-Blowing Violations
In a whistle-blowing scenario, a worker finds an employer knowingly practicing misconduct, such as fraudulent or harmful operations. The worker then may speak out over the transgressions. In many cases, these employees are treated poorly as a result.
Workers that believe they lost their job because of retaliation (related to whistleblowing or any other type of retaliation) should consult with a wrongful termination lawyer immediately. Companies may not fire an employee at any time because they do not support a legally protected activity.
You can learn more about these types of wrongful termination by calling Stewart & Stewart at 1-866-926-2419 or reaching out online.