Getting fired from a job can be incredibly upsetting. Losing a job can mean loss of critical income and benefits; it can also create a disruption in a person's employment history. And feeling like the termination was wrongful or illegal can make the situation that much more troubling. 

Understand, though, that there is a difference between a firing feeling unfair and being wrongful. One of the biggest differences is that there could be legal remedies available if a termination is wrongful. Below, we explain what this means.

In most employment relationships, either the employer or the employee can terminate employment for any or no reason. This is at-will employment.

However, a termination may be wrongful if it is for illegal reasons. This can include firing someone: 

  • In violation of a valid employment contract
  • For discriminatory reasons
  • As a form of sexual harassment
  • Who refuses to commit an illegal act
  • Out of retaliation for engaging in protected activity, like filing a complaint or claim about the employer

In many cases, an employer will give no reason for a termination, or he or she might fabricate one. Because of this, it can be very difficult to prove that a termination is illegal; but it is not impossible.

Typically, you (with the help of your attorney) can examine previous performance reviews, similar terminations in the past and statements made by managers or your employer to find evidence of a wrongful termination.

As such, be sure to retain any all documentation related to your performance, as well as any information on promises your boss may have made to you. This includes emails, memos, voicemails and statements from witnesses who were present for certain conversations.

If there is reason to believe your employer illegally fired you, you could be eligible for various remedies. This could mean job reinstatement, severance pay and damages. Therefore, it is vital to understand your rights and examine your case with an attorney. 

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