Employer Retaliation: Wrongful Termination Lawsuits
Last Updated on June 26, 2017
Attorneys working with ClassAction.org are no longer investigating this matter. The information here is for reference only. A list of open investigations and lawsuits can be viewed here.
At A Glance
- This Alert Affects
- Anyone who was fired for asserting their legal rights at work.
If you were fired for asserting your workplace rights, you may be able to sue your former employer. Attorneys working with ClassAction.org are now speaking with employees who were terminated after complaining about workplace violations, participating in lawsuits or formal investigations, or reporting their employers to government agencies. They are trying to help these people determine whether they can file lawsuits and recover wages they lost while out of work. Some of these cases have resulted in settlements totaling hundreds of thousands of dollars – and they show no sign of slowing down anytime soon.
If you were fired in retaliation, get in touch with ClassAction.org by filling out the form on this page and one of the attorneys we work with may reach out to you directly to ask you a few questions about your termination.
Can I Be Retaliated Against For Standing Up For My Rights?
In general, it is illegal for an employer to fire or otherwise retaliate against an employee because he or she has exercised his or her legal rights. A number of laws – including the Civil Rights Act and the Fair Labor Standards Act – give employees the right to engage in “protected activity” without being fired or otherwise retaliated against.
What Falls Under “Protected Activity?”
This generally includes making formal and informal complaints to your employer and relevant government agencies, as well as helping with or testifying in a legal proceeding or investigation.
- Filing a claim for workers’ compensation benefits
- Talking to a lawyer about your rights – even if you don’t have grounds for filing a lawsuit
- Filing a complaint with a government agency, such as the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission or the Department of Labor
- Telling your boss or human resources director about underpayment, discrimination, harassment, etc.
- Helping with a government investigation into a potential wrongdoing at your workplace
- Testifying in another worker’s lawsuit
How Do I Know I Was Fired in Retaliation?
Most workers have hunch that they were fired because they stood up for themselves. If there is no physical evidence (e.g., a company e-mail explaining the real reason you were fired), there are generally other signs that could suggest you were terminated because you asserted your legal rights, such as:
- You were fired shortly after serving as witness, speaking with a lawyer, reporting an injury, filing a charge with the DOL, etc.
- The person who fired you had knowledge that you made a complaint or engaged in some other protected activity
- The employer deviated from common firing procedures (e.g., giving you a warning before firing you)
- The employer had no other reason for terminating you
- You had excellent performance reviews – and were fired anyway
How Could a Wrongful Termination Lawsuit Help Me?
By filing a wrongful termination lawsuit, you may be able to collect compensation for wages you lost while out of a job, attorneys’ fees and costs, and money for any stress, frustration or reputational harm you suffered as a result of the termination.
In some cases, you may also be entitled to punitive damages – which are an extra monetary award intended to serve as punishment for the defendant – or even be able to get your old job back. A lawsuit could also require your former employer to institute training, redo its complaint processes or carry out other activities that could help stop retaliation in the workplace.
Retaliation Cases: Have They Been Successful?
Yes. Here are a few examples of recent settlements and verdicts:
- $700,000 for a University of California employee who was retaliated against for testifying in another employee’s sexual harassment case
- $352,000 for a conductor who was wrongfully terminated after reporting a workplace injury
- $332,000 for a signal shop technician who was fired for reporting a workplace injury under the Federal Railroad Safety Act
- $160,000 for two employees who were fired after complaining that their supervisor said they were “too old” and “washed up”
- $90,000 for building services engineer who was fired after complaining about race and sex discrimination on the job
- $63,500 for an order selector at a food service distributor who told coworkers she was going to file a gender discrimination charge and was wrongfully terminated for it
- $50,000 to a black driver who was fired after complaining that his supervisors and co-workers taunted him with racial slurs
- $40,000 for a Puerto Rican sales associate who was wrongfully terminated after complaining that his store manager was taunting him about his skin color
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