When Do I have a Case for Wrongful Termination?
Posted on behalf of Phillips Law Group on Aug 22, 2017 in Employee Rights
Unexpectedly losing your job can come as a distressing surprise and may cause serious financial difficulties in your life.
Although most employees are subject to termination at the will of their employer, there are some exceptions that may enable you to file a claim for wrongful termination.
If your employer has violated your rights as an employee, the Phillips Dayes Law Firm PC employment law attorneys are ready to help you pursue your claim. Below, we explain what is considered grounds for wrongful termination and when you may have a valid claim.
What is Wrongful Termination?
Most employees in Arizona are hired at-will, meaning their employment is not guaranteed by a written contract or agreement. Under this arrangement, an employer is allowed to terminate an employee at any time without cause or recourse.
Under ARS § 23-1501, an employee has a legal claim against an employer when the cause of his or her termination is unlawful and violates a statute of the Arizona Constitution or the Civil Rights Act. These violations include:
According to Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, employers are prohibited from terminating an employee on the basis of his or her:
If you believe you have suffered from workplace discrimination and were fired as a result, you may file a discrimination charge with the:
- Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) within 300 days of the alleged discriminatory act. However, in some cases you must file a claim within 180 days of the alleged discriminatory act.
- Arizona Civil Rights Division (ACRD) of the Attorney General’s Office within 180 days of the alleged discriminatory act.
Once you file a discriminatory claim, the agency you chose to file a claim with will conduct an investigation to determine whether your case requires Cause or No Cause for action.
After the investigation has concluded, you may receive a “right to sue,” which will give you 90 days to file a lawsuit against your employer. If you fail to meet the 90-day deadline, you lose the right to sue your employer for discrimination.
Filing an OSHA Complaint
Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, employees are entitled to a safe workplace and healthy working conditions.
An employee is also entitled to file a claim with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration if he or she has been subjected to an unsafe work environment. He or she cannot be terminated for making a complaint.
Wage and Hour Disputes
Employees in Arizona are entitled to a minimum wage of $10.00 an hour and must be compensated for overtime pay at a rate of one and half times their normal wages when working more than 40 hours in one work week.
If an employee is not adequately compensated under these terms and files a wage and hour complaint with the Industrial Commission of Arizona, he or she cannot be terminated during the course of the dispute.
Arizona law specifically prohibits termination for an employee reporting an employer for attempting to force him or her to break the law.
Additionally, an employer cannot terminate an employee out of retaliation for asserting their rights, including:
- Filing a claim for workplace discrimination
- Cooperating in an investigation against his or her employer
- Testifying against an employer in court
- Filing a claim for workers’ compensation
- Filing a whistleblower claim with the government
Qualified Time Off
Employees in Arizona have the right to take time off from work for civic duties and personal responsibilities. An employer cannot terminate an employee for exercising these rights. This includes the right to:
- Vote in a state or national election
- Serve on a jury
- Serve up to five years in the military or as a member of the National Guard if the employee is called to active duty or attend to required military duties
Under the Fair Wages and Health Families Act, employees in Arizona are also provided mandatory earned sick leave and cannot be fired for:
- Recovering from a medical condition
- Caring for a sick or injured family member
- Attending to legal matters, such as consulting with an attorney
- Missing work due to domestic violence, abuse, sexual violence or stalking
- Caring for or bonding with a newborn child
What Are My Legal Rights After Wrongful Termination?
If you believe you were wrongfully terminated, you may have the right to take legal action against your employer for lost wages and other damages.
In most cases of wrongful termination in Arizona, you must file a claim within one year after the termination of your employment. Generally, there are four conditions that would entitle you to sue an employer for wrongful termination:
- If your termination breaches the conditions a written employment contract
- If you were terminated for discriminatory reasons and you received a “right to sue” letter from the EEOC or ACRD.
- If your termination is in retaliation for exercising your legal rights, such as refusing to commit an illegal act or collecting workers’ compensation benefits.
- If you were employed in the public sector and your employer violates the rights granted to you by federal law, Arizona statute, or other government regulations or standards.
Our attorneys will review your claim to determine if your termination meets any of the previously listed conditions for a wrongful termination lawsuit. If you have a case against your employer, we may be able to help you recover compensation for:
- Lost wages
- Payment for services to find a new job
- Attorneys’ fees
- Continuation of benefits
- Reclassification of the nature of termination
- Severance package
Contact an Employment Law Attorney in Phoenix
If you believe you were wrongfully terminated, it is important you contact an experienced employment law attorney as soon as possible.
The Phillips Dayes Law Firm PC is ready to help employees whose rights have been violated by their employer and wrongfully terminated as a result. Our attorneys are ready to help you pursue legal action and recover the compensation you deserve.
Call 1-800-706-3000 to get started today.