You lost your job, but believe your employer illegally fired you. How hard is it to prove a wrongful termination case — and which claims usually win? Remember, there’s a big difference between what most people agree seems “unfair” vs. breaking the law. Below, we’ll list some examples of what it takes to win a wrongful termination case in court against your employer.
Proving Your Wrongful Termination Case for Discrimination
We all know someone who lost her job right before or after having a baby. Or whose job got “eliminated” while on maternity leave. Federal law says that’s illegal. However, it’s harder to prove in states with at-will employment laws. The Pregnancy Discrimination Act of 1978 requires employers to treat pregnancy like a temporary disability. In order to win a wrongful termination case for pregnancy discrimination, you must also meet these requirements:
- You must work for an employer with 15 or more employees. Small companies may get away with firing pregnant women or eliminating their jobs specifically because of this rule.
- Make sure your employer’s covered before filing your complaint. For example: To have a valid wrongful termination case based on FMLA leave, your employer must have at least 50 employees working within 75 miles. In addition, you must work there at least 12 months before taking FMLA leave.
- You must file a discrimination charge with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) within 180 days. Many people fail to do this before filing a wrongful termination lawsuit. When the EEOC successfully processes your charge, they’ll send you a right to sue letter. Once you have that letter, finding an employment lawyer is your next step towards suing for wrongful termination.
How to Prove Your Wrongful Termination Case For Reporting Workplace Safety Violations
Several high-profile plant explosions recently rocked the news. In one case, the plant’s owner had a years-long history of violating federal and state safety regulations. What happens when you report such violations to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) agency? Even if you stay anonymous, it’s illegal for your employer to fire you. Before you can file a valid wrongful termination claim, follow these steps:
- File a whistleblower complaint no more than 30 days after losing your job. (For all deadlines, visit whistleblower.gov.)
- Within 45 days after your termination date, you must also file an administrative complaint with the EEOC. Once you do this, the EEOC will investigate your employer. You should then receive a right to sue letter within 180 days.
- In addition, you must show good evidence your wrongful termination case resulted directly from legally protected activities. Let’s say OSHA calls about your workplace safety complaint, then a coworker tells your boss. Your previous performance reviews are all positive, and you got a raise three months before losing your job. This information likely helps prove your case.
- Contact a qualified employment attorney as soon as possible. Every state has its own wrongful termination laws and rules. Consulting a lawyer is always free!
Are Claims Against Employers Hard to Win? And If You Do Win, How Much Money Could You Get?
Is it really worth your time and effort? Below are some retaliation claim statistics from EEOC investigations the agency completed in FY2019:
- 67% of investigated claims found no reasonable cause for employee termination
- $205.2 million awarded to people who filed EEOC charges alleging retaliation-based discrimination (does not include lawsuit settlement awards)
- Employees who filed lawsuits against their employers won another $39.1 million above and beyond that $205.2 million!
Now that you know the numbers are on your side, you can file your claim with confidence. Not sure how to find the right lawyer to help with your case? We can match you with a qualified employment attorney in your area today for a free, no-obligation legal consultation here.