Unexpectedly losing your job never seems fair, but there are times when it may be considered wrongful termination. Tennessee is regarded as an “at-will” employment state. Generally, that means employers can terminate employment, and employees can quit their positions at any time for virtually any reason. However, there are countless exceptions.
State and federal wrongful termination laws are in place to protect employees from being unjustly fired. You may have a case for wrongful termination if your employer committed any of the following violations:
Title VII of the Civil Rights Act (1984) protects employees from being fired based on their race, sex, country of origin, age, and religion. These and others are considered “protected classes.”
Employers cannot punish employees for exercising their state or federal rights. For example, employees are commonly wrongfully terminated after filing for workers’ compensation benefits, filing a complaint (unsafe business practices, sexual harassment), or alerting authorities about unlawful business practices (whistleblowing). Besides termination, retaliation also includes pay cuts, denied raises, docked hours, demotions, sudden transfers, and more.
Employment may be “at-will,” but if your firing violates the terms of an existing oral or written contract that specifies when employment can be terminated, you may have a wrongful termination claim. However, violations of a spoken contract can be much more challenging to prove.
Employment cannot be terminated due to workers engaging in acts protected by public policies. For example, jury duty, voting, serving in the military or following a shelter in place order.
If you believe you are the victim of wrongful termination, the first step is to file a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). The EEOC will conduct an investigation to determine whether there is evidence that supports your claim. If so, they will attempt to remedy the situation. At the end of their investigation, the EEOC may issue a Right To Sue letter that gives you the ability to file a wrongful termination lawsuit. In Tennessee, a wrongful termination lawsuit must be filed within 180 days from the firing date. If your wrongful termination was based on civil rights violations (e.g., discrimination), this deadline is extended to 300 days.
While waiting for the EEOC to conclude their investigation, it is in your best interests to consult a Mount Juliet wrongful termination attorney. Proving a wrongful termination case can be extremely challenging, especially if your previous employer is giving a lawful reason for firing you. Gathering evidence to build a solid case is crucial, and an attorney will have the resources to help you do so.
If you feel you have been wrongfully terminated, contact The Law Offices of Christopher Eads. Our Mount Juliet employment lawyer will assess your case and help you decide the best course of action. We offer free consultations. Call (310) 861-3303 or send us a message online today.