Whether you were dismissed for discriminatory reasons, in retaliation, or because your employer violated a contract, a wrongful termination can have devastating consequences for you, and a Kansas City wrongful termination lawyer can help you get all the damages you’re entitled to.

Defining Our Terms: What Counts as “Wrongful?”

In Missouri, “at-will” employment is the standard. This means employers can terminate employment for any reason, or no reason, except in specific situations. Likewise, employees are free to leave a job at any time, again except in a few specific situations.

It’s these exceptions that form the basis of wrongful termination law. When your employer fires you for a reason that violates an employment contract you have with them, a state or federal statute, or a public policy, then “at-will” no longer applies.

Examples of wrongful termination include:

  1. Discrimination: Dismissing an employee based on protected characteristics like race, national origin, sex, age, religion, disability status, or pregnancy.
  2. Retaliation: Firing an employee who has reported illegal workplace activity – known as whistleblowing – or participated in a workplace investigation.
  3. Breach of Contract: Violating a written or implied employment contract’s terms of termination.
  4. Public Policy Exceptions: Missouri recognizes a narrow exception if an employee is fired for exercising a legal right, like filing workers’ compensation claims or refusing to engage in illegal activity.

What Damages Can My Wrongful Termination Lawyer Recover for Me in a Missouri or Kansas City Wrongful Termination Case?

Expectation Damages

Expectation damages are the most common in wrongful termination lawsuits, and they are designed to put you in the position you would have been in if the wrongful termination had not occurred. This means fulfilling the expectation of your employment contract or addressing losses naturally flowing from the unlawful termination.

Lost wages are calculated from the date of termination until the date of judgment or settlement, based on the amount you would have earned had the termination not occurred. This calculation often includes not only your base salary but also any lost bonuses, commissions, and expected raises.

In addition to lost wages, you may be entitled to compensation for lost benefits. These benefits might include health insurance, pension plans, and other employment perks that you lost due to your wrongful termination. The valuation of these benefits is typically based on their cost to you or the cost of obtaining similar benefits elsewhere.

Liquidated Damages

Liquidated damages are a bit less common in wrongful termination cases. They involve a predetermined amount of compensation agreed upon in an employment contract in the event of a breach. However, these clauses must carefully specify the circumstances under which they apply and should define a reasonable method for calculating the damages, or a court may find them unenforceable. Your lawyer can help you find whether such a clause exists in your employment contract.

Final Wages

Missouri has specific laws about final wage payments after a termination. Final wages are not technically “damages” sought in a wrongful termination suit, but rather a statutory requirement separate from the wrongful termination case itself. Employers must pay all wages on the day the employee is terminated. If they don’t, the employee should request these in writing.

If your employer does not respond to your written request within 7 days, you are permitted to file suit, and, depending on the employer’s situation, attitude, and the court, you may be awarded not only the wages but also attorney’s fees and other expenses. Your Kansas City wrongful termination lawyer can tell you more about how this may apply in your case.

Punitive Damages

In Missouri, punitive damages are reserved for especially egregious situations where the employer acted with malice or reckless disregard for your rights. These damages are not designed as compensation for your losses but rather to punish the employer and discourage such behavior. They may be awarded in cases involving discrimination or retaliation, but just bear in mind that they are rare.

Non-Economic Damages

These damages are designed to compensate you for the more intangible, harder-to-define losses resulting from the wrongful termination. Non-economic damages could include compensation for emotional distress such as mental anguish, suffering, or humiliation. Additionally, you may be entitled to damages for loss of reputation if your professional standing was adversely affected by the circumstances of your termination. These damages typically only apply in certain types of cases, such as retaliation or discrimination, and not for breach of contract.

Legal Standards for Proving Wrongful Termination

Proving wrongful termination requires more than just demonstrating that you were dismissed from your job. You must establish that the termination violated specific legal protections, such as anti-discrimination laws, or that it breached an employment contract or an established public policy. The legal standards applied will depend on the specific circumstances of your case and the grounds on which your claim is based.

For instance, if you allege discrimination, you must show that your termination was based on prohibited grounds, such as race, gender, age, or disability, under laws like the Missouri Human Rights Act or the federal Civil Rights Act. Alternatively, if you claim that your dismissal violated a contractual agreement, you will need to prove the existence and terms of the contract and how these were breached by your employer.

How Your Attorney Can Help

Having an experienced attorney on your side at this stage is very important. 

Finding Everything You Need and Using It Well

They will know what evidence is needed and where to look for it, and they know how to use this evidence to good effect and present it well. 

Guiding You Through the First Steps

Your attorney can next help you be sure you’ve done all your important first steps, like making an internal complaint with your company and filing with the right state or federal agency. Depending on how the state or federal agency responds, your lawyer will help you take the next steps, whether that’s entering into negotiations with your employer or going on to court. 

Making a Proper Assessment of Your Damages

An experienced lawyer can also assess the full range of damages you are entitled to, including things you might have missed on your own. You can be sure that neither your employer nor their insurance company will be interested in reminding you of anything you might be entitled to that you’re not aware of.

Handle All Legalities

Your attorney will also handle all legal filings, make sure you don’t miss any statute of limitations deadlines, and guide you through the deposition or trial process. They will help you in challenging any defenses raised by the employer, such as claiming that the termination was for a legitimate, non-discriminatory reason.

In other words, the likelihood of a favorable outcome is much higher when you have an experienced wrongful termination attorney on your side.

​Wrongful termination ​is a serious issue, and many ​people don’t realize they have options when an employer mistreats them. To find out more about your ​case and what damages you can recover, talk with us at Holman Schiavone, LLC  in Kansas City right away. We have years of experience ​fighting for the ​rights of wrongfully terminated people and have a strong track record of success both in and out of court.