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Employment

Philadelphia Wrongful Termination Lawyers

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Employment

Philadelphia Wrongful Termination Lawyers

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What Is Wrongful Termination?

Wrongful termination is the firing of an employee when that termination either breached an employment contract or violated a public law. If an employee has an employment contract, the contract should detail the reasons for which the contracted employee can be discharged, so it is somewhat straightforward to demonstrate a wrongful discharge.

However, many employees in the U.S. are employed through at-will employment, which is an employment system in which the management can terminate an employee at-will. In the case of at will employment, termination is considered a wrongful discharge when either a) the employee can establish an implied contract for employment and termination that lacked proper cause, or b) the termination was a violation of public law, such as protections against discrimination or whistleblowing (for full discussions of each of these topics, see the respective practice area pages on discrimination and whistleblowing).

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Wrongful Termination Examples

Wrongful termination can include any of the following examples: termination of a contracted employee without cause, retaliatory discharges for whistleblowing or for filing complaints against a supervisor or employer, illegal discrimination, or being fired for failing to comply with a direction to break the law. This is not an exhaustive list of examples, but gives a general idea of the sorts of terminations for which employees may seek recovery.

What is the average settlement for wrongful termination?

The amount an employee can receive for a wrongful termination claim depends upon multiple factors, including the employer, the type of employment, the strength of the evidence supporting that the termination was wrongful, and the damages the employee suffered (including lost income). However, the average out of court settlement for wrongful litigation is around $40,000. There are a few instances, in about 10% of cases, in which a wrongfully discharged employee can recover up to $1 million, depending upon the circumstances of the termination.

Sources

Cornell Law School, Wrongful Termination, Legal Information Institute, Accessed July 13, 2020.

Cutting Edge Recruiting Solutions, The Average Employee Lawsuit costs $250,000… How Safe is your Company, 2012, Accessed July 13, 2020.

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At-Will vs. Just Cause

How do you know if you are an at-will employee? Unless your employment contract or handbook specifies otherwise, you are likely an at-will employee. The default in many states is at-will employment. It is especially true if there is no language that would indicate otherwise. Pennsylvania is one of those states.

An employer can only fire a “just cause” employee for good reason. These employees typically sign a contractual agreement to stay on with the employer. Usually, the contract will detail what constitutes “just cause.” If the contract does not define just cause, the employee handbook will likely tell you. It does not mean that you cannot find yourself without a job. Rather, it means that it is more difficult to fire you than an at-will employee. Typically, good reason means things like stealing from work, fighting on the job, or any other examples of gross misconduct. These acts of gross misconduct are such that you will likely let go immediately or after progressive discipline.

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Public Policy & Wrongful Termination

If your employer terminated you in violation of your contract we can help you recover. Wrongful termination exceptions for the at-will employee In Pennsylvania, any employee can sue for wrongful discharge or termination only in certain circumstances. In order to have a legally actionable case for wrongful termination, the discharge must violate “public policy.”

Public policy is anything that is so against public decency or the moral good. The courts in Pennsylvania have detailed a variety of reasons that constitutes of violation of public policy. You may have a case of wrongful termination if your employers fired you after any of the following:

  • Attempts to coerce you into committing a crime
  • Obeying the law
  • Showing up for jury duty
  • Refusal to comply with a lie detector test
  • Refusing to serve alcohol to a visibly intoxicated individual
  • Following government regulations for the use and handling of nuclear waste
  • The law otherwise prohibited the action

The law is clear. Your employer cannot fire you for reasons that violate public policy. The law defines public policy in a number of ways. Keep in mind that the aforementioned list is not exhaustive. If your employer terminated you following a refusal to engage in a practice that is against public policy, you have options.

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Steps To Take If You Think You Have Been Wrongfully Terminated

Following a wrongful termination or discharge, you can sue your employer to recover lost wages and future earnings. You may also recover any other financial injury that you experienced as a result of the wrongful termination.

There are multiple scenarios in which wrongful termination can occur, and the facts surrounding your termination from employment will largely dictate the type of wrongful termination claim you may have.

If you think you have been wrongfully terminated, you should keep records of all communication between you and your employer regarding the termination, as well as any past performance reviews.Additionally, if applicable, you should retain records of any actions you took, such as filing a discrimination or harassment claim or a whistleblower complaint, which could have led to a retaliatory discharge, which is a form of wrongful termination.

To discuss your options today, please contact the attorneys at Freundlich and Littman, LLC., so that we can help you recover what you deserve as a result of your wrongful termination. Call us today at 215-545-8500 or email us at [email protected] to schedule a free consultation.

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