Job termination can be a stressful event for anyone. Unfortunately, almost every state in the United States allows employers to legally terminate employees at any time – so long as the reason is not discrimination, retaliation, or illegal in another way. Most people are unaware of their employment rights, and do not know what to do when their jobs have been wrongly terminated.
Employees whose employments have been recently terminated may find themselves asking what kind of rights they have after being laid off, and how can they exercise those rights?
Below, we take a look at the different kinds of employment rights workers have following a job termination and what kind of help you can seek if you believe you are dealing with a wrongful termination.
Disclaimer: The following is not legal advice. It is general information meant to inform. Please consult with a wrongful termination lawyer for legal guidance and assistance.
What Kind of Employment Rights Do You Have Following a Job Termination?
The first thing to know about employment rights is that your contract of employment regulates the relationship between employers and employees. An employment contract is a binding contract which also regulates job termination.
At-will employment means that the employee or employer is able to terminate an employment relationship at any time for any reason, barring it is not illegal or goes against a contract or agreement. Following a termination though, it is important to understand that you do still have certain employment rights.
In many cases, you may be entitled to things such as:
- A final paycheck;
- Severance pay;
- Continued health coverage; and
- Unemployment benefits
The availability of these benefits can vary from state to state and may depend on other factors.
For example, according to the U.S. Department of Labor, workers who have become unemployed through no fault of their own (as determined by state law), may be eligible to receive unemployment benefits. Usually there are a few different eligibility factors that must be met as well.
In Ohio, to receive unemployment compensation, an individual must meet the following:
- Be unemployed;
- Have worked in Ohio during the past 12 months;
- Earned a minimum amount of wages as determined by Ohio guidelines; and
- Actively seek work each week that they collect benefits
Additionally, if you have any kind of employment contract or other relevant agreements with your employer, those may provide you with more employment rights as well.
What Can I Do Following What May Be Wrongful Termination?
For employees who believe that they have been wrongfully terminated, there are a few steps you can take in the aftermath.
- Understand that there are federal and state level laws that protect workers from discrimination based on protected characteristics like race, age, religion, disability, sex, etc. You can also not be fired for things such as reporting illegal behavior, military service, reporting safety concerns, and more.
- Save all of the relevant communication and documents that you can. This can include texts, emails, letters, and even your employer’s company policies and guidelines. Be sure to request a letter that details the reason you were terminated as well, as this all serves as evidence to support your case.
- Write out your version of events. Be sure to include things like dates, times, names of people that were involved, and what actions occurred. This will help you collect your timeline of events and should be done as soon as possible after you have been fired.
- Connect with a wrongful termination lawyer. They will be able to offer you a consultation on your case and provide you with legal representation should you have a case. And keep in mind that your employer will have legal representation of their own as well, so it is important for you to seek your own.
What Kind of Help is Available Following Wrongful Termination?
Another key employment right that you are entitled to is the right to not face discrimination, abuse, or harassment in the workplace – even if you have been terminated.
A wrongful termination occurs when an employee is fired for an illegal reason. This can happen in a few different ways including:
- Being terminated based on gender, sex, religion, race, age, national origin, disability, and veteran status.
- In retaliation for things like reporting safety concerns or illegal behavior.
- Using the Family and Medical Leave Act.
- In retaliation for reporting discriminatory practices.
- Breaching an employment agreement.
Finally on Employment Rights After A Job Termination
Wrongful termination is something you have the right to take legal action on. You are entitled to protect your rights as an employee in a few ways.
You can file a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), a federal agency that oversees the enforcement of laws that make it illegal for employers to discriminate “because of the person’s race, color, religion, sex (including pregnancy, transgender status, and sexual orientation), national origin, age (40 or older), disability or genetic information.”
You can also consult with a wrongful termination lawyer. They will be able to help you file an EEOC discrimination charge and take a close look at your case to see if you have a legal claim.
An experienced wrongful termination lawyer will also be able to provide you with legal advice and representation that is specific to your situation. Every wrongful termination situation will differ based on the facts, and those facts will be important in determining your employment rights.
About the Author
Coffman Legal, LLC is a Columbus based law firm that solely specializes in employment law. Their areas of expertise include wage and hour, discrimination, and employment law such as employment retaliation, hostile work environments, and wrongful termination. Their team of wrongful termination lawyers work to serve and represent workers throughout the state of Ohio who have been mistreated in the workplace – no matter the industry. They work on both small and large cases, ranging from individuals who have been mistreated all the way to FLSA collective actions. They offer free consultations that can be scheduled online or over the phone.