Wrongful termination arises where an employee is terminated from employment for unlawful reasons.
Generally, in the absence of an employment contract for a specified term or collective bargaining agreement, employment is considered “at will,” which means that an employer can terminate an employee “for good cause, or bad cause, or no cause at all.” However, a claim for wrongful termination may arise where unlawful discrimination or retaliation is involved or company policies are unevenly and unfairly applied.
The basis of a lawsuit against your employer would not be for wrongful termination per se, even though that is precisely what happened. Instead, SMITH LAW would sue on your behalf for discrimination, hostile work environment, retaliation or whatever action prompted your employer to wrongfully terminate you.
The Georgia wrongful termination lawyers at SMITH LAW have successfully resolved numerous wrongful termination cases, including (without limitation) situations involving employees who were terminated because of their age, sex, race, color, national origin, or disability; employees who were terminated because they became pregnant; employees who were terminated for taking a leave of absence under the Family Medical Leave Act; employees who were terminated in retaliation for complaining about or opposing a hostile work environment based on race, sex, disability, and other legally protected characteristics; employees who were terminated in retaliation for complaining about minimum wage and overtime pay violations; and employees who were terminated for refusing to violate state and federal law.
A wrongful termination claim may also arise in the context of “constructive discharge” where an employee is forced to quit because the working conditions or treatment have become so intolerable that a reasonable person in the employee’s position would have no choice but to quit. The standard for “constructive discharge” is a very high standard—higher than the standard for a hostile work environment. Accordingly, being subjected to a mean boss, or to occasional name-calling or nit-picking by a co-worker or supervisor, will not be enough to establish wrongful termination based on “constructive discharge.” By contrast, egregious sexual harassment (i.e., non-stop sexual comments and/or inappropriate sexual touching) may support a claim for wrongful termination based on “constructive discharge.” It is important to note, however, that an employee must exhaust all efforts to resolve the workplace issue before quitting. Failure to do so may preclude an employee from prevailing on a wrongful termination claim based on “constructive discharge.”
If you believe that you were wrongfully terminated, the Georgia wrongful termination attorneys at SMITH LAW can help you pursue all available legal remedies.
Please note that upon termination, an employee might be offered a severance agreement, which requires the employee to sign a release of any and all claims against his or her employer in exchange for certain benefits (i.e., a sum of money, continuation of health coverage, etc.). An employee should always consult with an attorney prior to signing a severance agreement, as doing so may preclude him or her from pursuing any claim against his or her employer, including a claim for wrongful termination, and waive his/her entitlement to any accrued and vested pension benefits, stock options, restricted shares, or other benefits provided by company plans.
If you have recently separated from your employer and have been offered a severance agreement, the employment contract attorneys at SMITH LAW can review the severance agreement and assist in negotiating more favorable terms.