The COVID-19 pandemic has wreaked havoc on the economy, forcing a lot of companies to take drastic measures in frantic bids to stay afloat. The health crisis has not spared prominent companies like AutoNation — which is the largest auto dealership chain in the United States — as it furloughed 7,000 employees.
While your employer may have several reasons to let you go, not all of those are justifiable, and you may have a case for wrongful termination. You may feel intimidated, biting the hand that once fed you but wrongful termination happens a lot in workplaces all over the US.
To be clear: what is wrongful termination? It occurs when an employer fires an employee on grounds other than the ones specified in the employment contract. Whether it’s payback for whistleblowing or just sheer discrimination, the undeniable fact is it happens more often than you think.
Accusing your employer of it is one thing. Proving it is a different story altogether. So, how do you prove wrongful termination? Here are a few ways:
1) Get yourself a lawyer who is an expert in labor laws
Proving that you’re a victim of wrongful termination can be difficult. However, you can help your chances of winning the case by hiring a lawyer. Having an attorney who is an expert in termination and labor laws can immediately determine whether your case is worth pursuing or not.
2) Compile all documents about your employment
Your employment documents are the foundation with which you will build your case for wrongful termination. As such, you must gather all written agreements, assessments or any other files. It includes all contracts and agreements you had with the company, your personnel file and all memos you received from your employer. You must also secure a copy of the termination notice as well as the company’s handbook. It will come in handy for your lawyer to determine whether you were terminated lawfully or not.
3) Create a comprehensive timeline of your employment
Your next step is to sit down, talk with your lawyer and create a comprehensive timeline of all that happened, from the time of employment to your termination. Although it may get awkward talking about your experiences at the workplace, you must not hold anything back. Your lawyer must know every detail of the events that came before your termination to be able to build a strong case. Try to remember the dates and all the feedback you received from colleagues, human resources personnel and of course, your bosses.
4) Determine laws that were violated
There are several laws in place that protect employees from being victims of wrongful termination. The most prominent one is Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, which safeguards employees from discrimination based on sex (including gender and sexual preference), race, color, religion, and national origin. Aside from that, other laws cover issues like age, whistleblowing, disabilities, and many more.
Breach of contract can be easier to prove when there is a written contract available. Oral contracts are well and good so long as there is some form of written acknowledgement between you and your employer. Implied contracts, on the other hand, are tricky and a lot harder to prove since not all states recognize their legitimacy.
5) Obtain witnesses who can corroborate your claims
Having witnesses who can corroborate the claims you’re making against your employer can increase your odds of winning the case. It is especially important in cases involving discrimination as a third party who witnessed a pattern of negative behavior towards you will anchor your case a great deal.