Employment Law Article:
I Was Wrongfully Terminated and Want to Sue My Former Employer
This is a statement that we hear almost every day. Each time we hear this statement, we give the person who is calling a general overview of the law in Texas as it pertains to employment. We do this because most of the time a person who has been terminated has no recourse against the former employer.
This is because in Texas, generally speaking, an employer can terminate an employee any time for any reason, or for no reason at all. This means that the employer can also terminate an employee for a bad reason, meaning for example that the employer believed something untrue about the employee and used that as a reason for termination.
We usually start with this discussion of the law when someone calls us saying they were wrongfully terminated because most people who call have no idea that this is the law in Texas.
But I never had any write ups or any warnings about anything, they might say. That might mean that the employer is not a good employer, but it rarely means that the employee can do anything about it.
There are times, however, when an employer has done something where we can help the employee. Perhaps the employee had a contract and the employer breached the contract. In this situation, the employee can tell us this fact and hire us to review the contract, listen to the facts, and provide legal advice about a recommended course of action.
There are also Federal and State laws that protect employees from certain kinds of things. An example is that an employer that is large enough to be covered by the laws against discrimination cannot make an employment decision (hiring, firing, promoting, demoting, or other adverse employment actions) based on age, race, sex, religion, or national origin.
There are also laws that give employees rights if they are disabled, or if they want to take time away from work under the Family Medical Leave Act. The laws that protect employees in these instances are quite technical in nature, however, so not everyone will fit within their protection.
If you are disabled and cannot work, for example, you cannot expect an employer to be required by the Americans with Disabilities Act to keep you as an employee. In other words, if you canâ€™t come to work, and donâ€™t come to work, you should expect to lose your job. If you meet the definition of being disabled under the statute, however, and you are able to report for work, your employer probably has an obligation to accommodate you so that you can continue working there.
If you havenâ€™t worked at your company long enough to qualify, or if your employer doesnâ€™t have enough employees to be subject to the law, you may have no protection under the Family Medical Leave Act. If you are protected by the statute, the employer has certain obligations to inform you of your rights. If the employer fails to do that, you may have a claim.
Discrimination, disability, and FMLA cases can be pursued successfully, but they require proof. Proof is not what you believe happened, even if you know in your heart that it is true. Proof, or evidence as it is called in court, must come from documents or witnesses or emails or some admission by the employer, for example.
If you have no proof, you can expect that your case will not even receive any attention from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, let alone from a law firm that understands employment law. The EEOC, as it is known, is the federal agency that receives and investigates claims of employment discrimination. A suit cannot be filed in court alleging employment discrimination unless a charge is first filed with either the EEOC or its state counterpart. Only after that government agency issues what is called a Right to Sue Letter can a suit be filed in court.
The bottom line is that every case is different, and no matter how much we want to help you, there are times when we cannot, usually for the reasons given in this article. This doesnâ€™t mean we donâ€™t believe you. It doesnâ€™t mean that we donâ€™t believe that you have been wronged or treated poorly by your employer or former employer.
What it means is that we have considerable experience in the employment law area, and we believe we cannot help you. We sometimes tell prospective clients that even though they want to pay us on an hourly basis to pursue a case for them, we will not take the case. We know that we cannot achieve a result that will make them happy. We know that they would just be wasting their money.
If we say this to you, consult with another law firm, but remember what we told you as well. It might save you a lot of time and money. Sometimes the best thing to do is move on with your life.
Â© 2008 Lee Solomon
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