Missouri is an at-will employment state, which means that your employer has the right to fire you for any reason as long as the reason for your termination is legal and honors Missouri employment law. If you believe that you have been wrongfully terminated in Jackson County Missouri, then you may need the help of wrongful termination attorneys to seek compensation, such as final wages.
What Compensation Is Available in Missouri After a Wrongful Termination?
In general, the primary compensation you can seek after being wrongfully terminated is your unpaid wages. However, depending on your specific circumstances, you may be entitled to other forms of compensation. For example, if you did not receive your final wages and this had a negative impact on your housing situation, you can likely seek additional compensation for emotional distress and suffering.
The two most common forms of unpaid wages you can claim in a wrongful termination case are your final wages and your vacation wages. Understanding this difference can help you build a case with an employment lawyer.
Your final unpaid wages should cover all of the workable hours you have not been paid for or the hours you have worked since your previous paycheck. Even if you’ve been fired a few days after you received your previous paycheck, you are still entitled to final wages.
According to Missouri law, you are legally entitled to receive your final wages on the same day that you have been fired. If you do not receive your final wages on the same day you lost your job, your employer generally has seven days to provide your unpaid wages to you. At this point, if you have not received your final wages, you may need to try other wage recovery options or seek legal restitution.
Depending on your employment contract, you may also be entitled to claim vacation wages or the paid time off you may have received when you took a vacation. This is not always the case for all people who are seeking compensation for wrongful termination.
You will need to consult with wrongful termination attorneys to determine whether or not you can claim vacation wages as part of your compensation. You must have a copy of your employment contract to prove you are allowed to request compensation for unpaid vacation wages.
How Do You Know If You Were Wrongfully Terminated in Jackson County Missouri?
Although Missouri employers can fire you for several reasons, there are specific circumstances that indicate you’ve been wrongfully terminated in Jackson County Missouri. Some of these circumstances include breach of the employment contract, discrimination, retaliation, whistleblowing, and being fired for taking medical leave.
Your employment contract will outline several circumstances where you can be fired. For example, your employment contract will delineate whether or not your employer can fire you at-will. If you are fired and you believe that this is a breach of your employment contract, you should talk to an employment lawyer to learn more about your options, including filing a lawsuit.
You cannot be fired because of your age, gender, biological sex, religion, race, ethnicity, or any other discriminatory reason such as disability. If you believe that you have been fired because of discrimination, then you likely deserve compensation for your wrongful termination.
Discrimination in the workplace can take many forms, so you will need to speak with an employment lawyer to understand how much discrimination you have faced while you were working. A lawyer will tell you whether or not the additional instances of discrimination can qualify for punitive damages and compensation.
Sometimes, employers fire workers who have filed official complaints, such as complaints of sexual harassment. It is illegal for your employer to fire you because you have filed a complaint. Losing your job because of retaliation is a clear sign of wrongful termination and an indicator that you may be entitled to compensation for unpaid wages, along with other types of compensation.
Similar to retaliation, you cannot be fired for whistleblowing. If you filed an official complaint about the operations of a business and lost your job for whistleblowing, then you are likely entitled to compensation. Whistleblowing cases can swiftly become complicated, so you’ll need the support of an employment lawyer in Missouri to help you assess your case and fight for the compensation you deserve.
The coronavirus pandemic has created several situations in which employers have fired employees for not showing up to work because of shelter-in-place orders or because employees contracted COVID-19. You cannot lose your job because you have taken medical leave or because you have followed public health mandates. If your employer has fired you for any reason related to your medical welfare, then you are likely eligible to file a lawsuit for wrongful termination.
How Can Wrongful Termination Attorneys Help?
Wrongful termination attorneys are educated and skilled in all of the Missouri laws related to employment. There are several ways an attorney can help you with your case. From filing a basic complaint to taking a lawsuit to court, here are a few ways that an attorney can help you.
File a Complaint
If you believe that you have been fired because of discrimination or retaliation, you can file an official complaint with the Missouri Commission on Human Rights. Although you may be able to file this complaint by yourself, if the complaint is part of a lawsuit against your employer, then you will need the help of a lawyer to ensure that the complaint is correctly filed and includes all the details that will assist your case.
Send a Written Request
After you have been fired, you will be able to request your final wages in written form to your employer. You and your lawyer can send a letter via certified mail for your final wages. Your employer will then have one week to respond to this written request, either by denying the request or agreeing to pay your wages within 60 days. If a written request is not honored, then it may be time to file a lawsuit.
File a Lawsuit
You can file a lawsuit against an employer who has wrongfully terminated you and Missouri. Filing a lawsuit is usually the most effective way to receive your unpaid wages and other compensation if your former employer is not responsive to other requests. The lawsuit may also help you seek additional compensation if your case involves discrimination, retaliation, breach of contract, whistleblowing, or other complicated factors.
Small Claims vs Circuit Court
If you are filing a lawsuit for wrongful termination, the amount of compensation you’re seeking will determine where your lawsuit will be filed. If you are seeking $5,000 or less in compensation for unpaid wages and damages, then you will file your case in small claims court. If your compensation is over $5,000, then you have the right to pursue legal action in the circuit court.
If you’ve been fired in Jackson County Missouri, then you likely have several legal strategies available to you. For example, with the help of a lawyer, you can file an official complaint with the Missouri State Labor Department, send a written request, and even file a lawsuit for compensation for your unpaid wages. For more information about the compensation you may be entitled to, contact wrongful termination attorneys at Holman Schiavone, LLC today.