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How Do You Prove Wrongful Termination in 2024?

Proving wrongful termination involves demonstrating that an employee’s termination was unlawful or breached an employment contract. The steps and evidence needed to prove wrongful termination vary based on the circumstances, applicable laws, and the nature of the employment relationship.
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How to Prove Wrongful Termination

According to USAGov [1], general steps that people may take to prove wrongful termination include:

  • Understand Employment Contracts and Policies: Review any employment contracts, offer letters, or company policies that contain information pertaining to the employment relationship. Look for provisions related to termination, notice, and cases where termination may be warranted.
  • Identify Protected Categories: Determine if the termination may have been based on race, gender, age, disability, religion, or other protected categories. Discrimination or retaliation based on any of these factors is unlawful.
  • Document Employment History: Gather and organize documents related to your employment history, including performance evaluations, commendations, or any evidence of positive contributions to the workplace environment.
  • Document the Termination Process: Keep records of the termination process, including any written communications, emails, notices, or explanations provided by the employer. Document the timing and events surrounding the termination.
  • Gather Witnesses: Identify and save contact information from any coworkers or other witnesses who may have observed the termination. Witnesses can provide supporting testimony and strengthen your case.
  • Establish Unlawful Motive: If you suspect the termination was based on a protected category or in retaliation for protected activity (such as whistleblowing), gather evidence to establish a connection between the termination and the unlawful motive.
  • Review Applicable Laws: Understand the employment laws that apply in your jurisdiction. Depending on the location, laws may vary regarding at-will employment, just cause, and protections against discrimination or retaliation.
  • File a Complaint: If you believe you have been wrongfully terminated, you may file a complaint with the appropriate government agency. In the United States, for example, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) [2.] handles discrimination complaints.
  • Consult an Employment Attorney: Seek legal advice from an employment attorney who specializes in wrongful termination cases. An attorney can assess the specific circumstances, provide guidance on legal rights, and help build a case.
  • Negotiate or Pursue Legal Action: Depending on the situation, you may attempt to negotiate a resolution with your former employer through mediation or pursue legal action. If negotiations fail, legal action may involve filing a lawsuit.

Also Read: Steps to Get Your Job Back After Being Wrongfully Terminated

Were You a Victim of Wrongful Termination?

If you believe you were wrongfully terminated, it's important to note that employment laws can vary by jurisdiction, and the specific evidence required may depend on the circumstances of each case. Consulting with an employment attorney is advisable to navigate the legal complexities associated with proving wrongful termination.

If you were fired in retaliation for reporting unsafe or illegal work practices or products, you have whistleblower protections. Report your termination to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).

Also Read: Can You Be Fired Without Being Told Why?

Employee Lawsuit Statistics

  • Startup ventures often encounter legal challenges, with around 10% facing threats or lawsuits from former employees. Defending against such lawsuits can be costly, averaging around $160,000 per case. In cases of wrongful termination, the median award for an employee plaintiff is approximately $70,000.
  • Retaliation claims account for about 41% of all Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) claims, totaling over $106 million in monetary value in 2020. Interestingly, more than half (52%) of employment lawsuits are resolved before going to trial, with only 1-4% actually reaching a jury verdict.
  • Workers aged 50 and older file a significant portion, 22%, of EEOC complaints. In 2019, there were 72,675 EEOC charges filed in the U.S., and the average length of an employment lawsuit is 318 days. California stands out with 12% of all EEOC charges filed in the country.
  • Sexual harassment cases constitute about 20% of all workplace discrimination lawsuits, and in 2019, the EEOC filed 144 lawsuits related to workplace harassment. Interestingly, a vast majority, approximately 84%, of employment discrimination cases are resolved through voluntary agreements or other non-litigation measures.
  • When employment lawsuits do go to trial, companies tend to lose 67% of the time, while employees win approximately 64% of employment discrimination cases that are litigated.

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