Wrongful termination means that an employee has been terminated based upon a legally-protected reason, such as race, age, gender, disability (including pregnancy), religion, national origin, sexual orientation, or another protected reason. It can also mean termination for taking protected actions, including filing a worker’s compensation claim, whistleblowing, or making/filing a complaint about sexual harassment. We frequently represent clients who have been retaliated against, often for speaking up about illegal activity.
At law, there is no separately recognized claim for “wrongful termination” by itself. Instead, there must be a termination linked to an illegal reason or action in order for the termination to be “wrongful.” In a lawsuit, the illegal reason or action will need to be specified.
If you have been wrongfully or illegally terminated from a job, or the victim of retaliation, you need an experienced employment lawyer to advocate on your behalf. Our firm is tenacious in protecting the rights of wrongfully terminated employees, and demanding full compensation on their behalf.
Settlements & Verdicts
Wrongful termination case for a midwife against a local hospital.
Helped to get job back for female employee improperly terminated by a hotel chain.
Wrongful termination in violation of public policy case for a man fired after he complained of illegal activity within the company.
What Types of Termination are Not Wrongful?
In Massachusetts, as in other states, employees who are not part of a collective bargaining agreement or under a contract are considered to be subject to “employment at will.” This means that an employer can fire an employee for any reason, or for no reason at all, except for a reason that it legally protected.
Laws Protecting Workers from Discrimination – Federal and State Law
Employees should know that certain employment laws limit the circumstances under which an employee may be lawfully terminated. Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 bans discrimination based upon race, gender, religion, or national origin. The Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) of 1967 was enacted to protect employees age 40 years or over from suffering unfair disadvantages and stereotypes. In 1990, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) was passed to ensure that employees with disabilities or handicaps were provided with equal opportunities to participate in the workforce.
Massachusetts has similar laws outlawing employment discrimination based on race, gender, religion, or national origin, age, handicap, and sexual orientation.
Under both state and federal law, it is illegal to terminate an employee for reporting unlawful discrimination, and employers cannot retaliate against employees for whistle-blowing activities, which are considered protected activity. Recent cases have shown employees who have been terminated for reporting a co-worker’s unlawful behavior; for reporting violations of safety laws; or for refusing to lie when demanded by the employer are also wrongful. In addition, employees who work on a commission basis will have a valid claim if they have been terminated because the employer is trying to avoid its obligation to pay the worker for work that has already been performed and monies that have been earned.
What if My Boss is Not Fair? What if they Prefer Someone Else Over Me?
Employers do not need to be “fair.” They can decide any day that they want to fire you – maybe just because they are in a bad mood that day. It doesn’t even matter if you are doing an outstanding job, and can prove it.
Employers cannot fire you if their primary motivation is illegal, such as if you become pregnant and they don’t want to pay for maternity leave, or if you are older and the company wants to bring in younger workers, or if you complain about sexual harassment.
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How We Help Those Who Have Been Wrongly Terminated
At the outset, after learning about the nature of your termination, we will want to identify what illegal reason(s) may have been the primary motivating factor for your termination. Then, we can advise you as to your options, and how we can help.