People can get fired for many reasons. Perhaps they are a bad employee who does not adequately perform the tasks and job they were hired to do. Or maybe they stole from the company, or maybe they are guilty of possessing drugs and/or alcohol at work. It is very clear there are a lot of reasons to legally fire an employee, but what about wrongful termination?
Federal laws protect employees from retaliation (read: revenge firing) for partaking or committing protected acts.
For example, your employer cannot legally fire you if you report unlawful or even potentially unlawful behavior. Employees who are acting under good faith and reason are protected when they report unlawful (or potentially unlawful) behavior to state and/or federal agencies of enforcement, and also to internal reporting contacts.
If an employee is fired for such a protected action, then their termination is wrong and unlawful. In this instance, the employee has a case and may file a lawsuit against their former company.
Federal laws protect employees from retaliation for participating in an investigation.
This stipulation relates to the aforementioned fact that an employer cannot legally fire you if you report unlawful or potentially unlawful behavior. If a case or investigation results from such a reporting, then the employer cannot legally terminate the employees who participate in said investigation or who testify in any resulting case.
So, if you find yourself a victim of termination for retaliation, what can you do to protect yourself? Your first step should be to hire a lawyer. When navigating an issue involving your very livelihood, you want to make sure you have someone on your team who is trained to handle such a situation.
Next, you must prove a few things.
First, you must prove you were in fact engaged in protected behavior or activity. For example, you must show that you did report unlawful or potentially unlawful behavior to the necessary enforcement agency or internal contact.
Next, you must prove you suffered some sort of punishment as a result of the first behavior. Were you demoted or fired?
Then, you also have to show that your punishment was a direct result from your initial engagement in protected behavior or activity.
If you think you have suffered wrongful termination due to retaliation, contact Jarvis & Garcia for legal assistance and guidance.