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Employment Law

Wrongful Termination

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What is Wrongful Termination?

The term “Wrongful Termination” simply means that an employee has been terminated or separated from a company for an illegal reason.  Wrongful termination has many forms, but the most common causes for wrongful termination claims include:

  • Termination which violates an employment agreement
  • Termination for reporting illegal business practices
  • Termination for refusing to engage in illegal behavior at work
  • Termination which retaliates against an employee for reporting discrimination or sexual harassment
  • Termination in violation of anti-discrimination laws

What Employers Need to Know About Wrongful Termination

Employers are finding themselves plagued by unemployment boards and lawsuits for wrongful termination by their employees.  However, employers can often avoid such litigation and agency review by having, updating, and enforcing a well written employment handbook.  It is also important to maintain proper record keeping in regard to employees and their personnel files.  Lastly, a formal procedure to handle terminations or separations, including but not limited to an exit interview and severance package can create full proof protections from subsequent litigation.

Since Massachusetts is an at-will employment state, employers have significant freedoms in ending employment with employees.  Those liberties do not benefit your company if it is losing thousands or tens of thousands of dollars defending a wrongful termination lawsuit.  To protect your company’s reputation,  consult an employment attorney and review your termination practices to prevent wrongful termination lawsuits and agency review.

What Employees Need to Know About Wrongful Termination

You’ve been a good employee, but after years of service you are being let go for what seems to be no reason at all.  Do you have a case for wrongful termination?  In Massachusetts, unless you have a specific contract for employment you are most likely an at-will employee.  Thus, your employer can let you go for no reason at all.  In order to determine whether you were wrongfully terminated you should consult an employment attorney to determine if you have been discriminated against or if there has been a violation of company or public policy that led to a wrongful termination.

To protect your interests there are three steps you should take to protect your interests.

  1. Consult with an employment lawyer prior to signing any severance agreement or release of any kind, as you are likely waiving any right to sue upon signing it. Your employment attorney can also make sure you are receiving the best severance possible.
  2. Request a copy of your employment file and, if necessary, place a response in your file.
  3. Make sure you obtain a copy of the employee handbook that existed at the time of your hire and the handbook in place at the time of termination.

 

Discrimination laws only allow individuals 180 to 300 days to file a claim, depending on whether you are going to file under federal or state law, so time is of the essence in gathering your materials and consulting with an employment attorney.  Furthermore, an employment attorney can assist you with an appeal of a denial of benefits, should you get denied unemployment.  Generally, one only has 10 days to request a hearing following the denial of unemployment benefits.

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