Were you unexpectedly fired from your job in Jackson County, Missouri? Even if your boss gave you a plausible explanation for your dismissal, there may be more to the story. If you believe that you were unfairly terminated, you should consult an employment lawyer. Before you accept any sort of severance pay or termination agreement, get an expert opinion. Don’t sign away your rights before talking to an experienced employment lawyer.
Employment Unfairly Terminated? 5 Reasons to Consult an Employment Lawyer Before Accepting Severance
1. Severance Is Final
If your employer offered you a severance package, it’s often a tacit admission of guilt. However, if you accept that severance package, you’re closing the book on your case once and for all. If you carefully read the terms and conditions of your severance deal, you’ll find that you waive your right to pursue further damages in court. Furthermore, you lose the right to challenge the company for any other wrongs they may have committed while you worked there.
Therefore, signing a severance agreement is final. While the offer of immediate compensation might be tempting, especially as you face uncertainty from losing your job, do not sign right away. Tell your employer that you will think it over, and then reach out to a lawyer. You may find that the offer your employer gave you is far less than what you are entitled to.
2. Severance Usually Includes an NDA
In addition to waiving your rights to pursue damages in court, severance packages typically include another important document. An NDA, or non-disclosure agreement, is usually required to receive severance. If you sign an NDA, you waive your right to discuss events that happened within the company. Although there are valid reasons to ask someone to sign an NDA, for instance, to protect legitimate company trademark secrets, you need to read this document carefully.
Many NDAs will also prevent you from discussing wrongdoing within the organization. If you witnessed labor violations or suspect that there was a pattern of discrimination in the company, you won’t be able to speak about these issues publicly after signing an NDA. If you post something negative about the employer on social media, you could be prosecuted based on the terms and conditions of your NDA. Essentially, a severance package and NDA is how your employer buys your silence.
3. Your Employer May Have Violated Jackson County, Missouri Law
Missouri is an at-will employment state, which means that employers can fire any employee for any reason. Likewise, you have the right to quit “at will” whenever you want. Employers in Jackson County, Missouri will often cite this law when firing people to avoid prosecution. However, just because Missouri is an at-will state does not mean that employers can violate other labor laws. In addition, employers have to respect their stated company policies.
For instance, if you were fired shortly after becoming pregnant, that could be a violation of the Pregnancy Discrimination Act. Likewise, if your employer has shown a pattern of removing minority employees, they could be in violation of anti-discrimination laws. If the company has a written policy of providing notice to employees before termination, but your boss didn’t do so, then you also have a valid cause for suing the company. Violations of the law should be taken seriously.
4. You Could Be Entitled to More Damages
If your employer broke a labor law by firing you inappropriately, not only are you likely able to sue for greater damages than what was offered in your severance package, but your employer may also face fines from the government. This is why many employers are quick to offer seemingly generous severance deals. They hope that you sign away your right to challenge them in court so that they don’t face additional penalties.
You may not even need to take your case to trial to receive a greater settlement. After your employment lawyer files a lawsuit in a Jackson County, Missouri court, your employer will be notified. They will likely reach out with a better offer to settle out of court. At this point, you have the most leverage. You can choose to accept an offer, negotiate for more, or proceed to trial. Either way, your lawyer will help you navigate the process.
5. Fighting Wrongful Termination Helps Others
If your employer committed a labor violation, odds are they’ve done it to other people as well. Unfortunately, many companies go unpunished. If you choose to file suit and take your case to court, you help bring justice to others who may have suffered similar mistreatment from the company. In fact, you may even be able to reach out to others who’ve been wrongly dismissed to form a class-action lawsuit.
Signing a severance agreement with an NDA also precludes you from joining a class-action lawsuit. This is why it’s important to read these documents carefully and consider whether you are content to let the employer win in exchange for a modest sum. You may be able to bring justice to others and secure a better future for other employees in the company by pursuing your case in court.
What Happens If I Decide to Sue my Employer?
First, you’ll need the help of an experienced labor law lawyer. The court system can be difficult to navigate. A single mistake on your forms or filings can result in your case being tossed out. Your lawyer will sit down with you to discuss the details of your case. Any documentation you can bring will be vital to supporting your claim.
For example, you can provide evidence of being a good worker at the company. If you worked there for several years and remained in good standing, your case will have more merit in the eyes of a jury. Showing flawless attendance records or data that shows you exceeded expectations would naturally make a jury wonder why a company would let such a valuable employee go.
Filing Suit and Court Appearances
Once your lawyer has examined your case, they’ll file suit for you in a local court. Your employer will be notified and you may enter negotiations to settle out of court. If you choose not to accept those offers, there will be a date set for a hearing to go over the preliminary details of the case. If the court finds that the case merits a trial, they will then set a date for the trial.
Both you and your lawyer must appear on those dates to proceed with the case. For the trial, the court will summon jurors who will decide your case. If they agree that the company was guilty of wrongful termination, the judge will decide what damages to award you and what other fines the company must pay.
The Importance of Legal Counsel
Your employer likely already has lawyers on call to handle cases like yours. They will be prepared to fight the case to the end. For that reason, it’s vital that you have your own legal team to help you win your case.
If you need a lawyer to examine your wrongful termination, call Holman Schiavone Employment Law. We’ll hold the company accountable and get you the compensation you deserve.