No one ever wants to get fired from a job, but it’s even worse when you may have been wrongfully terminated. In Missouri, there are certain signs that your employer may have broken the law and that you should talk to a wrongful termination lawyer.
Do You Have a Case? 7 Signs You Should Talk to a Wrongful Termination Lawyer in Missouri
Your Employer Didn’t Follow Policies
Most companies have written policies that outline how an employee is terminated, including verbal and written warnings, personal improvement plans, and time frames. If your employer didn’t follow the policies written in your employee handbook, you may be able to sue them for wrongful termination. This could be tricky, though, because this is an at-will state, which means an employee can terminate you for any valid reason or for no reason at all, even if they violate the policies.
As such, it’s important to provide a lawyer with the policies outlined in your employment documents and with an account of how your termination was handled. You might still have a case, but it could be more difficult to prove. A wrongful termination attorney will be able to analyze the situation and explain to you whether filing a lawsuit is the appropriate action. If you have a case for policy violation, an attorney will likely be necessary to prove it.
You Suffered Discrimination
Discrimination is illegal according to the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Employers cannot discriminate against you based on race, religion, color, national origin, age (if over 40), gender, disability, or sexual orientation when they hire you or when they fire you. They also cannot discriminate against you for being pregnant, your marital status, your military affiliation, or if you have taken approved and legally eligible leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA).
If you believe you have been fired based on one of these factors, your employer will have to prove that they fired you because of a business-related reason. They will have to provide any written documentation and employment actions that were taken prior to your termination and demonstrate that they were appropriately taken and not rooted in discrimination. If your company is unable to prove it didn’t discriminate against you with documentation, your case is much stronger.
You Were Replaced With Someone Who Earns a Smaller Paycheck
This is another accusation that can be difficult to prove, but if you believe you were terminated because you were making too much money, you might be able to sue your employer for wrongful termination. This is considered a breach of good faith because you were fired not because of the quality of your work or your bad behavior, but because they wanted to save money. The key in proving this will like in the person hired to replace you.
If the person who replaced you is earning significantly less than you and has less experience, it’s possible your claim that they only fired you to save money could be valid. Additionally, your employer may have to prove that your performance or attitude was poor, and was the reason you were let go. Since a Missouri employer can fire you for any reason or no reason at all, proving your case without a wrongful termination lawyer may be challenging.
Your Employer Violated Public Policy
It’s illegal for employers to fire employees for taking time off to serve on a jury, vote, or serve in the military. If you believe you’ve been fired because you missed work for one of these reasons, you could have a wrongful termination case. Additionally, you can’t be fired for refusing to commit an illegal act or for reporting illegal actions in which your company has engaged. This is known as whistleblowing, and the laws surrounding whistleblowing are complex.
Companies still retaliate against employees who report their illegal activities because the laws are so convoluted, but an experienced wrongful termination attorney will be able to help you prove that your actions were warranted and your employer’s actions were not. Due to the complexity of this area of employment law, it’s recommended that you retain an attorney to help you navigate the legal processes to ensure the best possible outcome.
Your Employee Fired You After You Filed a Complaint
In most cases, your employer cannot fire you after you file a legally-protected complaint against your employer or co-worker. For example, if you file a complaint about a health or safety issue, your employer is not able to fire you for making that complaint. The same is true for harassment and concerns taken to the Equal Opportunity Employment Commission. Even so, it may be hard to prove that your complaint triggered your termination, which is why an attorney is necessary.
Harassment also applies if you were fired after rejecting the advances of your supervisor. If you refused to provide a sexual favor in exchange for a promotion or raise, and you were fired afterward, you have a valid lawsuit. Even if you didn’t file a harassment complaint after the quid pro quo arrangement was suggested, you should still retain an attorney to protect your rights against this illegal action. However, you should file a complaint as soon as possible.
Your Employer Made You Commit Fraud
If your employer’s policies and practices are fraudulent, and you were tricked or forced to uphold these policies and practices, and were later fired because you committed fraud, you may be able to file a valid lawsuit against your employer. The key to winning this type of wrongful termination lawsuit is documentation. You will need to prove that your supervisor knew the policies and practices were fraudulent and they tricked you into unknowingly using them to defraud customers.
Becoming the scapegoat for a company’s fraudulent practices can seriously harm your future career opportunities, so if you believe you were tricked into using a fraudulent procedure to fulfill your employment contract, and you were fired for this reason once the fraudulent activity became public knowledge, you need to take action to protect your reputation. It’s not just about losing this job, but also about losing future opportunities because of a situation in which you were a victim.
Your Employer Defamed You
Firing you is one thing, but if your employer also attempted to ruin your reputation in the community by intentionally spreading false information about you during the termination process, you may have a valid wrongful termination lawsuit. False information can make it difficult for you to find another job, especially in the same area and industry, so a lawsuit may be necessary to clear your name, and so future employers don’t believe the false allegations.
Sometimes, there is a fine line between defamation and gossip. The burden will be on you to prove that the statements made about you were not just gossip, that your employer knew they were false or didn’t try to find out if they were true, and made the statements as fact anyway. You’ll also need to prove that these statements were made to at least one other person and that the statements harmed you in some way.
Wrongful termination lawsuits are notoriously difficult to prove, which is why you need an experienced lawyer by your side if you’re going to pursue legal action against your employer. Contact Holman Schiavone, LLC in Missouri to speak to our expert attorneys about how we can protect your rights.