Can an employee who is fired file a wrongful termination lawsuit?

The relationship between an employer and employee is one that, throughout history, has been the subject of much examination and debate. Thankfully, today numerous laws exist that help protect the rights of employees with regard to workplace safety, discrimination, harassment and fair wages. In cases where an employer violates one or more of these types of employment laws and subsequently terminates an employee, legal action may be appropriate.

An employee who believes that he or she was laid off or fired for illegal reasons would be wise to consult with an attorney. While most people who are laid off or fired likely believe they were wronged, in order to file a wrongful termination lawsuit certain criterion must be met.

For example, a wrongful termination lawsuit may be filed by an employee who is terminated after refusing a supervisor's sexual advances or in cases where an employee is laid off after lodging a complaint about unsafe working conditions. Individuals facing these types of situations may choose to discuss their case with an employment attorney who can determine whether or not an individual's case constitutes wrongful termination and, if so, can represent one's best interests.

An attorney can provide advice related to the next steps an individual may want to consider. In some cases, an employer may offer a terminated employee some sort of severance package under the condition that a former employee waive his or her rights to take legal action against an employer. An attorney can assist in helping negotiate terms of a severance package that are most beneficial to an individual.

In cases where an individual decides to take legal action and file a wrongful termination lawsuit, he or she may be able to recover damages related to lost wages. Additionally, in cases where an employee's termination is linked to acts of discrimination or harassment, punitive damages may also be awarded.

Source: Findlaw.com, "Wrongful Termination Claims," 2014

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