If you’ve recently been laid off, you may be asking yourself whether you have any claims to make against your former boss since most of the fired workers usually don’t have a case against their former employer. As an employee, it’s assumed that you work at will which means you can quit or be dismissed at any time.
Being laid off in itself isn't illegal, but it does not mean that every instance of firing is legal. For example, you can't be fired for unfair reasons or in reprisal for reporting wrongdoing. If you believe that you were laid off unlawfully, then you may have a valid claim for wrongful termination against your former boss.
What Is Wrongful Termination?
Wrongful termination is a broad term that is used to refer to a situation when an employee is dismissed illegally. Generally, dismissal due to discrimination or in retaliation is categorized as wrongful termination.
Any termination that is in violation of the public policy is also regarded as wrongful termination. This means that you can't fire a staff member for various reasons that the public would find morally wrong, e.g., dismissing an employee for exercising his/her legal right or for refusing to execute an illegal act.
When Should You Consider Hiring an Attorney?
One of the reasons why you will need to consult a lawyer is to figure out if you have a valid claim against your former employer. If the circumstances surrounding your dismissal suggest that it may be wrongful termination, then an attorney will guide you on what to do next.
It is particularly important to consult an employment lawyer if you are requested to release all claims against your former employer or when you are asked to sign a waiver. Most employers will demand that you sign an agreement not to sue them to get a severance package and once you sign the deal, it's almost impossible to file a lawsuit against your employer.
If you feel like your termination wasn’t legal, feel free to seek the services of a wrongful termination attorney who will help you gather facts and guide you on how to proceed with the matter.