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How Do I Know if I Was Wrongfully Terminated?

Posted on April 5, 2020 in Wrongful Termination

Employers must have a lawful justification for removing you from your position — and under federal law, the most common reasons for termination are just, including poor performance, consuming alcohol or drugs on the job, or disrespect of upper management.

However, there are unlawful reasons for letting an employee go, such as discrimination based on race, gender, or religion or retaliation. If you believe that your employer wrongfully terminated you, you may have grounds to file a wrongful termination lawsuit against him or her.

Common Types of Wrongful Termination

In order to file a claim against your former employer for wrongful termination, you will need to ensure that his or her reason for firing you was unlawful. Since most employment is at will, employers can release you from your duties for a variety of reasons that may seem unfair, but are not illegal.

You may be eligible to file a claim against your employer if your firing involved one or more of the following circumstances.

  • Discrimination: U.S. federal law protects you from losing your job due to discriminatory reasons. Your employer cannot fire you on the basis of race, gender, national origin, color, religion, age, disability, or pregnancy.
  • Breach of Written Contract: Your job may not be at will. If your job contract promises your job security and your employer breaches that contract for firing you, you may be eligible to file a claim.
  • Retaliation: Your employer cannot retaliate against you for participating in legally protected activities, such as filing a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission or filing a sexual harassment report. If you can prove that your employer fired or punished you for engaging in this activity, you could have grounds for a Chicago hostile work environment claim.
  • Defamation: Your employer may have made remarks about you that were untrue and harmful, leading you to lose your job. If you can prove defamation occurred, you may have the basis for a lawsuit.
  • Violation of Public Policy: There are certain legally protected activities that your employer cannot fire you for. For example, your employer cannot fire you for taking time off to serve on a jury, vote, or serve in the military or National Guard. In addition, your employer cannot fire you for making a whistleblower report. Speak to an attorney to determine if your firing was in violation of public policy.

What to Do If You Believe You Are Wrongfully Terminated

When it comes to wrongful termination cases, access to evidence is crucial for building your case. If your employer recently terminated you or you have a suspicion that he or she may terminate you soon, collect the following pieces of information as soon as possible before you lose access to them.

  • A written explanation of your termination
  • Records of your performance, such as quarterly reviews, salary changes, or promotion records
  • Correspondence between yourself and your employer regarding your termination or the events leading up to your termination
  • Unemployment compensation records

If you believe you may be a target for wrongful termination and you are still working for your employer, begin logging all relevant information as soon as possible. Keep a detailed log of all activities that may be important for your case, including the dates and times of relevant incidents and evidence that supports your claims, such as memos or informal comments or messages. Taking the time to collect this evidence now will help support and strengthen your case in the future.

Legal Remedies for Wrongfully Terminated Employees

If you believe that your employer wrongfully terminated you, you may be eligible to collect compensation for the physical, emotional, and financial damages you suffered through a lawsuit in Illinois civil court. However, you will need to prove that your firing fits the legal definition of wrongful termination — which can be difficult to accomplish without a legal background.

Contact a Chicago employment lawyer as soon as possible to assist you with your case. Your attorney will have strong knowledge of federal and state labor laws, helping evaluate your case and determine whether you have grounds to file a lawsuit. If you have not done so already, schedule a consultation with your attorney to discuss your case and begin planning your next steps.