If you feel you have been the victim of wrongful termination by a former employer and are considering what options you may have, you may be wondering where to begin. You’re likely curious about what the potential compensation could be for lost wages and other damages incurred from the loss of a job. You may be wondering if you need a lawyer to file a claim on your behalf and what the costs involved could be.
What Qualifies as a Wrongful Termination?
Wrongful termination is not the same as being fired for a reason that is not illegal. Such examples of this would be general unfairness, retaliation for a social media post that an employer disagrees with, showing favoritism from the employer towards another employee, conflicts in personalities within the workplace, and bullying (that is not a protected characteristic covered by the law).
According to an experienced Los Angeles wrongful termination lawyer, wrongful termination will be determined by the unlawful actions of an employer in the firing of an employee. Your termination could be considered wrongful if it was for any of the following reasons:
- Firing or layoffs that do not follow a business’s internal policies or practices
- Discrimination within the workplace (that include: religion, gender, national origin, ethnicity, pregnancy, disability, and/or age)
- Violation of state or federal employment law
- You reported being a victim of harassment that you refused to participate in
- You reported being asked to participate in an illegal act or safety violation and had refused to participate
Potential Compensation of Damages in Wrongful Termination Cases
Cases where wrongful termination claims received a court award after a trial or whose claims were settled out-of-court often received an amount ranging from $5,000 (or less) to $80,000 (though in some cases more). In general, the money received in these cases was to compensate the former employee for the damages or losses that occurred from the illegal termination of employment.
The damages and losses that can be compensated for include the following:
- Loss of earnings (which may include the amount of your previous wages while you were without work; in addition to the difference of income between previous wages and current wages if your new job pays less)
- Cost of looking for a new job
- Loss of benefits (which may include an increase in health insurance premiums as a direct result of losing employer-provided insurance coverage)
- Medical Expenses (that may have been incurred due to loss of health insurance coverage in addition to treatment for emotional distress and other implications of termination)
- Emotional distress
Each case is looked at in regard to the extent of damages. If, fairly soon after being terminated, you find a job with an equivalent income, your damages will be considered minimal, and you may have a difficult time receiving compensation even if you can prove your termination was unlawful.
Will Negotiating, Help You in a Wrongful Termination Case?
While it may seem that accepting the first settlement offer given by the former employer is better than no offer at all, negotiating could very well end in a higher dollar amount. This may not be true for every case but is still an excellent strategy for a potentially higher settlement amount.
How Your Compensation Could Be Affected by Filing a Wrongful Termination Lawsuit
When filing a lawsuit, a process called “discovery” begins where depositions are taken and evidence is collected through formal requests. By doing so, the employee is placed in a better position to negotiate with the former employer.
Former employees who filed a lawsuit, on average, collected upwards of $12,000 more than those who did not file a lawsuit. While the majority of wrongful termination cases never make it to trial, the filing of a lawsuit often persuades the former employer to make a higher settlement offer. Federal law sets limits on illegal discrimination and harassment claims based on employer size.