Protecting Your Rights if You Have Been Illegally Fired from Your Job
Most employment relationships in New York are “at will,” which generally gives both the employer and the employee the right to end the relationship when they wish. An employee can quit when they want and an employer can fire someone when they want, without having to offer a reason for doing so. An employer's right to terminate someone, however, does face some restrictions.
Wrongful termination occurs when a termination violates an employment law, public policy, or a valid employment contract. Wrongful termination violates employee rights and deprives them of the positions and income they would have earned. When this takes place, the law gives former employees the right to seek legal relief from their employers.
Wrongful termination cases are often complicated and adversarial. If you suspect that your employer illegally terminated you, contact an employment lawyer who fully understands your rights under federal and New York laws. Call Braverman Law PC for help.
Termination Based on Discrimination
Both Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the New York Human Rights Law prohibit workplace discrimination. In New York City, protected employee classes include:
- Citizenship status or alienage
- Gender identity
- Sexual orientation
- Marital status or partnership status
- Religion or creed
- Military status
- Domestic violence or sex offense victim status
- Credit history
- Caregiver status
Discrimination can range from refusing to hire someone based on a protected factor to harassment, demotion, and other adverse employment actions—including termination.
Any termination due to discriminatory factors strictly violates the law. If your employer fired you because of your race, sexual orientation, or another protected factor, you may take legal action against your employer for your unlawful termination. You may seek compensation for your many losses, as well as reinstatement at your former job if you wish. An experienced New York City wrongful termination lawyer can advise you of your rights and options in your specific case.
Hire the right attorney to protect your rights in this situation. Employers may employ many tactics to aggressively defend against allegations of discrimination and wrongful termination. For instance, employers will often deny any discrimination, and instead state that the termination was for another pretextual reason. Braverman Law PC can identify pretextual reasons and will work to provide the evidence needed to prove the true discriminatory reason behind a wrongful termination.
Anti-discrimination laws give you the right to work free from discrimination and to complain about discrimination or harassment when it occurs. The law also prohibits your employer from retaliating against you—including by terminating you—for speaking out or participating in an investigation regarding discrimination or harassment.
Other protected acts for which your employer may not terminate you in retaliation include:
- Making a good faith workers' compensation claim
- Complaining about wage and hour violations
- Requesting valid family and medical leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act
- Making a request for benefits protected by the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974
One of the most important protections against retaliatory termination is for “whistleblowers”—employees who are brave enough to come forward to report an employer's violation of law that threatens public health and safety. The law protects such employees from termination. Whistleblowers may report SEC violations, environmental violations, health and safety violations in the workplace, and other unlawful behaviors.
If you are considering blowing the whistle on your employer's illegal acts, or if your employer has already fired you for doing so, contact a skilled New York wrongful termination attorney as soon as possible.
Termination Against Public Policy
The law prohibits termination for exercising a legal right or participating in a legal obligation. For example, New York employees generally have the right to engage in lawful recreational or political activities on their personal time without the fear of termination. Furthermore, an employer may not terminate someone for participating in jury duty or voting, as long as the employer had proper notice of the absence due to the obligation. An employer also may not terminate someone for refusing to engage in unlawful, unethical, or otherwise wrongful practices on behalf of the employer.
Breach of an Employment Contract or Employee Manual
Some employment relationships are not at-will, but instead are based on an agreement signed by both parties. This agreement generally sets out the length of the relationship and may state that neither party may terminate the relationship except for good cause. If your employer suddenly terminates your contract without such good cause, you have the right to hold it accountable for breach of contract and wrongful termination. Similarly, if you have a union contract, your employer may not terminate you in violation of that contract without your employer following the set grievance procedures.
In addition, some employers distribute employment manuals that may list specific conditions under which they may fire employees. A manual may state that certain disciplinary steps must take place before termination or may specify that termination may only occur for good cause. Violating the terms of such a manual may constitute wrongful termination.
Do Not Wait to Contact a New York City Wrongful Termination Attorney for Help
If you want more information, please call (212) 206-8166 or contact Braverman Law PC online today.