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How to Know If You Were Wrongfully Terminated

Getting fired is one of the worst experiences in the world. Even if you’re unhappy or struggling with your position, losing your job without warning can make you feel like a failure.

But job termination is a grim reality that often happens. Companies let go of their staff all the time, and in many cases, the reasons for termination are justified.

They might fire people who fail to perform their job responsibilities or implement layoffs to cut back on expenses.

However, in some cases, a termination is not justified and may even be illegal. Employees who were wrongfully fired may be able to win a lawsuit that will get them reinstated or awarded compensation.

But when can you sue for wrongful termination? Here are a few situations to look out for, so you know whether to contact an employment lawyer.

1. Violation of Written Promises

When a person accepts a job offer, they often enter into an employment contract with the company. This written agreement often contains terms and conditions of termination that describe the circumstances under which both parties may end their relationship.

If you have a written contract that promises job security or details its specifics, review what the terms state thoroughly to determine if you were unjustly dismissed.

You would have solid and substantial grounds for a lawsuit if your employer violated the contract.

2. Violation of Implied Promises

Even though an implied contract of employment is not written down, it can still protect employees from wrongful termination – but proving to the court that such understanding was in place may be difficult.

Fortunately, employers create and place rules in the company, and they can get in trouble if they don’t follow their policies.

You can use your employee handbook as a guide since it should detail the process of how your company handles termination.

3. Breach of Good Faith and Fair Dealing

In most states, it’s illegal to fire an employee because of unfair company practices. When this happens, you can file a lawsuit and have a claim for a breach of good faith and fair dealing.

Employers breach the duty of good faith and fair dealing by:

  • Firing an employee to prevent them from collecting sales commissions.
  • Repeatedly transferring an employee to remote, dangerous, or undesirable assignments to force them into quitting without collecting their benefits or severance pay.
  • Making up excuses and other reasons to fire an employee with the real motivation of replacing them for someone willing to work for lower pay.
  • Misleading employees about their chances for wage increases or promotions.

4. Violation of the Public Policy

It’s illegal for employers to fire someone if it violates public policy, which is a system of laws or regulatory measures promulgated by the government or its representatives.

Laws may vary in each state, but some examples of employment-related actions that violate public policy include firing an employee for:

  • Taking time off work to vote.
  • Taking time off work for jury duty.
  • Taking a family or medical leave.
  • Serving in the military or National Guard.
  • Refusing to commit an illegal act.
  • Reporting illegal actions that the company committed.

5. Discrimination

Employers are not allowed to fire people based on race, color, nationality, gender, age, religion, disability, or genetic information.

In most states, you also can’t be booted out from work for your marital status, pregnancy, or military affiliation. Discriminatory conduct in any facet of employment is illegal.

Since there are strict time limits and rules for discrimination claims, you should talk to a lawyer immediately if you believe you were a victim of workplace discrimination.

6. Retaliation

Your employer can’t retaliate against you by firing you if you do activities that are legally protected in the workplace.

If your employer adversely acts after you filled a discrimination claim against them, you have another legitimate claim against your employer.

Other legally protected activities may include filing a complaint to an outside agency such as the Equal Opportunity Employment Commission.

Some states don’t require you to be fired. You can still file for a retaliation claim if your employer subjected you to unreasonable conditions that forced you to quit your job.


Despite the laws protecting employees, some companies still engage in egregious conduct. It’s best to consult with an employment attorney if you believe that you have been wrongfully terminated.

They will be able to guide you in preparing for a lawsuit to get back your job or receive proper compensation.

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