BY: Tad T. Roumayah | IN: Employment Law
Getting fired from a job can be traumatic under the best circumstances. When an employer fires someone for reasons that are illegal or unlawful, that employee may be able to file a lawsuit seeking damages for wrongful termination.
Michigan is an “at-will employment” state. This means that employers can fire most employees for any reason without having to provide just cause for their termination. In an at-will state, either an employee or an employer can end the working relationship without cause and without notice.
There are exceptions to the at-will employment rule. For example, an employer is required to abide by specific protocols, procedures, and other terms of its employment contracts. If an employer fires a person without following the terms of the contract, that employer can be liable in a wrongful termination lawsuit.
In addition to contract violations, wrongful termination lawsuits may be sustained when an employer fires someone in a way that violates public policy, or if the discharge was in retaliation for protected activities like whistleblowing. An employer also cannot terminate an employee based on a legally protected status like the employee’s race, gender, pregnancy, religion, national origin, or disability. In other instances, an employee’s job may be protected from termination if the employee has taken medical leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act, and other forms of health-related leave.
The judge or jury in a wrongful termination lawsuit may award several types of damages. Damages can compensate an employee for his or her actual financial losses, mental and emotional distress, or as a type of punishment against the employer for wrongdoing. Further, the court may award the employee’s attorney fees and costs incurred in pursuing the wrongful termination lawsuit. Employees could also ask the court to force an employer to take a certain action or correct a particular practice.
After a wrongful or illegal termination, employees can seek the back pay that they should have earned had they not been fired from the date of their termination to the time of the judgment. They can also ask for front pay, which is income that they would have earned from working at their employer into the future but for their illegal termination.
If a fired employee obtains a job that pays less than what the previous position paid, the employee can ask the court to make up the difference in compensation. Similarly, the fired employee could also be entitled to compensation for lost benefits like health insurance, retirement plans, or stock options.
A judge or jury could also award a wrongfully terminated employee compensatory damages for his or her losses. These damages could include payments for the mental, physical, or emotional damage that a person suffered as a result of the termination. People who face severe discrimination or with hostile work environments may be entitled to compensation for the distress that their terminations caused.
If you were fired by your employer and question whether the termination was unlawful, please contact us today to discuss your options and right to compensation. You may be able to recover significant damages that can help you improve your life after a wrongful discharge.
View all posts byTad T. Roumayah
Tad Roumayah focuses his practice primarily on employment litigation, representing employees who have encountered discrimination, retaliation, wrongful discharge, whistleblower protection claims, wage and hour violations and other employment issues and disputes.