Wrongful termination, or firing someone for an illegal reason, is fairly well-defined as a matter of law. What a person should do when they get wrongfully terminated is less obvious.
How one acts after getting fired for a reason that cannot be justified under the law can make a huge difference in determining whether the employer can be held accountable. A Columbus, Ohio, wrongful termination lawyer with Coffman Legal offers five essential tips on what to do.
Tip #1. Understand What Constitutes Wrongful Termination
A wrongful termination occurs when an employer fires someone for
- A discriminatory reason,
- Reporting a violation of employees’ rights,
- Reporting health and safety problems, or
- Cooperating with an investigation into a reported violation of employees’ rights or a reported health and safety violation.
Federal and state laws in Ohio protect workers from race, sex, age, religious, national origin, disability, and pregnancy discrimination. Employers also have legal obligations to protect the jobs and seniority of employees who get called up to active duty in the U.S. military.
Laws related to whistleblowing apply when employees report or discuss legal violations in the workplace. Firing someone for engaging in what Columbus wrongful termination lawyers call a “protected activity” creates liability for an employer. Retaliating against a whistleblower with demotions and other forms of mistreatment until they decide to quit can also be considered a form of wrongful termination called constructive discharge.
Tip #2. Remain Calm
A wrongful termination typically ends a long period of workplace discrimination and retaliation. When the ax falls, it should almost be expected. Mentally preparing for the unwelcome event can help the illegally fired employee remain calm.
Tip #3. Save Every Letter and Email; Keep Notes
Any employee who gets fired should request a letter that states the reason for the termination. The outcome of a wrongful termination case may depend on whether the employer can defend that official reason in court.
A wrongfully terminated employee will also help his or her case by keeping records of emails, conversations, and work incidents that document the discrimination or retaliation that he or she suffered in the period leading up to the firing.
Tip #4. Write Out Your Version of Events
Pursuing a wrongful termination claim against a former employer requires giving a coherent and provable account of why the firing was discriminatory or retaliatory. A productive way to start putting together such an account is writing down as many details about the events leading up to the wrongful termination as possible. Including approximate dates, people’s names, and quotes as nearly as they can be remembered will help the wrongfully terminated employee and his or her attorney subpoena records, identify witnesses, and conduct depositions.
It is generally a good idea to begin writing one’s account within days of the firing. Memory fades over time.
Tip #5. Consult With a Wrongful Termination Lawyer
Wrongful termination cases are not easy to win. Employers have many ways to argue that they fired an employee for poor performance, irregular attendance, or bad behavior even if solid evidence for discrimination or retaliation exists. Partnering with an attorney who knows how to cut through the attempted evasion tactics deployed by employers will greatly increase the chances of succeeding in a wrongful termination claim.
You can consult with an experienced employment lawyer in Columbus, Ohio, by calling Coffman Legal at (614) 949-1181 or connecting with us online. The initial conversation will cost you nothing, and everything you share with us will be kept in strict confidence.