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Wrongful Termination Lawsuits: 5 Grounds for Filing These Cases

In many cases, offers of employment are “at-will,” meaning that an employer can – at any time – end the relationship and let an employee go without cause or reason. Despite this fact, however, there are cases in which firing a person from his job may be illegal and, as a result, the wrongfully terminated person may be able to file a lawsuit against his employer.

In this blog series, we will highlight some of the specific grounds for wrongful termination lawsuits, as well as some of the important factors that people should keep in mind when they may be considering moving forward with such a lawsuit. While the discussions herein are general, you can easily obtain more specific info and professional advice regarding your case by meeting with Denver Wrongful Termination Lawyer Thomas E. Downey.

Common Grounds for Wrongful Termination Lawsuits

wrongful termination kick in the pants

1. Discrimination

Although employers may legally let employees go from their jobs for no reason (when employment is “at will”), it is against federal and state laws to fire someone because of their race, ethnicity, country of origin, gender or sexual orientation, age and/or disability. When such discriminatory practices are the basis of terminating a person’s employment, that person:

  • Will likely have a wrongful termination case
  • May be required to file and official complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC)

Because proving discrimination can be complicated and challenging – particularly when these cases may come down to an employee’s word against an employer’s story, it’s crucial to retain an experienced lawyer like Denver Wrongful Termination Lawyer Thomas E. Downey to advocate your rights in discrimination-based wrongful termination lawsuits.

2. Breaches of written or oral contracts

When employers have entered into written or oral contracts with employees for a term of employment, they are legally required to honor these contracts, and firing the employee who is a party to such a contract may constitute a violation (or “breach”) of these contracts.

For instance, an employer may enter into a contract with an employee that stipulates that the employee will be guaranteed a full-time job for a certain period of time. If the employer ends up firing the employee before this period of time is up, this will likely result in a breach of the employment contract (whether that contract is written or expressed) and can, consequently, be the basis of a wrongful termination lawsuit against the employer.

man fired from job and leaving with personal items

3. Retaliation against employees for exercising their rights

As we discussed in detail in a previous blog series, employees have certain rights in the workplace, including (but not limited to) the right to privacy, the right to a safe work environment and the right to blow the whistle on illegal actions of an employer. If or when employees choose to exercise their whistleblowing rights and report an employer to OSHA or some other authority for violating the law, it is illegal for the employer to fire that employee for making such reports.

Should employers ignore this fact and fire an employee as retaliation for blowing the whistle on some violation (such as a safety violation), that employee will likely have a wrongful termination claim and can sue his employer for various damages.

4. Firing an employee for taking legally permitted time off of work

By law, employees are permitted to take time off of work for medical leave, military obligations and certain other reasons. When employees exercise this right and end up being fired as a result by their employers, they can sue for wrongful termination.

5. An employer’s failure to follow certain procedures prior to firing an employee

Some employers may have specific procedures for taking disciplinary actions against employees prior to firing them; in many cases, these procedures are detailed in employee handbooks (or wherever an employer keeps official records of the company’s procedures, rules, etc.).

For example, an employer may stipulate that, as part of company policy, an employee who violates the rules will first get an oral warning; for subsequent violations, an employee may get written up and may have two chances to clean up his act prior to facing the possibility of being fired.

When such disciplinary policies are in place but employers fail to follow them (and, instead, fire an employee without any warning or appropriate disciplinary actions being taken ahead of time), this can be grounds for a wrongful termination lawsuit against the employer.

Additional Factors to Know about Wrongful Termination Lawsuits

man holding personal items after getting fired

While people considering moving forward with wrongful termination lawsuits will need to have a specific ground to file this case, they should also be aware of the following factors:

  • Different wrongful termination lawsuits may be resolved in different ways – Depending on the specific grounds of a wrongful termination case, these lawsuits may be resolved through very different proceedings, such as mediation, arbitration, etc.For instance, the terms of a contract between an employer and employee may stipulate that any disputes between these parties must first go to mediation prior to trial. In other cases, there may be no such terms, and a case may go directly to trial.The bottom line here is that it’s best to consult with an experienced lawyer to find out more about what you should expect in terms of the upcoming legal process necessary for resolving your case.
  • Various damages may be available to the wrongfully terminated person – In the event that employees win wrongful termination lawsuits, their settlements in these cases can include damages for various types of losses (depending, of course, on the specifics of their case).Some of the more common types of damages included in wrongful termination settlements include (but are not limited to) compensation for back pay, front pay, and attorney’s fees. In addition to such compensatory damages, it may also be possible to request and receive punitive damages as part of wrongful termination settlements.

Denver Wrongful Termination Lawyer at Downey & Associates, PC

If you believe that your employer wrongfully terminated your employment, it’s time to contact Denver Wrongful Termination Lawyer Thomas E. Downey.

Since 1983, Thomas Downey and the other legal professionals at Downey & Associates, PC, have been providing individuals and businesses in the Denver Metro Area and throughout the U.S. with the highest level of legal service for their employment-related legal issues. Our dedication to our clients, coupled with our extensive experience handling complex matters of employment law, means that our clients can always trust that we will aggressively protect their rights and help them achieve the best possible outcomes to their sensitive legal matters.

A choice to work with our Denver wrongful termination attorney can give you confidence that, at every stage of your case, your claim will be handled with expert care and attention and that we will work diligently to help you resolve your case as favorably and efficiently as possible.

Contact Us Today

We encourage you to learn more about your rights and options, as well as our various services, by calling us at (303) 813-1111 or by emailing us using the contact form on this page.

From our law offices in Centennial, we serve clients throughout Colorado and the U.S.

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