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Was I wrongfully terminated?

Losing a job is never easy. The mental stress of keeping up with bills and starting a job hunt can feel overwhelming, especially for caregivers. This anguish is made even worse if a person was wrongfully terminated.

Understanding what qualifies as wrongful termination and how to take legal action is your first step to moving forward with your life. Learn how New York state and federal law define wrongful termination and how to protect your employment rights.

What qualifies as wrongful termination?

Most workers in New York are "at will" employees. Private employers can legally fire at will employees for nearly any reason or for no explicit reason at all. To qualify for a wrongful termination claim, an employer must violate a worker's employment rights during termination.

The Civil Rights of 1964, the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967, and several other federal acts allow workers to file a claim if they are fired because of their:

  • Race
  • National Origin
  • Gender
  • Religion
  • Disability
  • Age
  • Citizenship status
  • Genetic information
  • Pregnancy status

New York state law prohibits termination because of a worker's:

  • Sexual orientation
  • Gender identity
  • Marital status
  • Military status
  • Political activities
  • Domestic violence status

Besides these discriminatory terminations, a worker can file a claim if they were fired as a retaliatory action. Workers who filed complaints or who blew the whistle on illegal workplace actions and were then fired because of their action can also file a claim.

Some employees may have a written or implied contract that they signed during the hiring process. You can file a wrongful termination claim if your employer breaches the terms of your employment agreement.

What to do after a wrongful termination

If you believe that your employer violated your rights, your first step is to collect all documents and contracts related to your employment and termination. Unfortunately, employers in New York are not required to give employees a copy of their personnel records. Employees who believe that they are at risk for wrongful termination should immediately begin documenting any violations of their rights that they experience in the workplace.

After gathering relevant documents, your next step is to call a knowledgeable employment lawyer. Skilled legal counsel can review your case and help you file a claim with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). Do not sign any agreements without first talking to an attorney. You may be able to get back your old job, as well as back pay and damages as the result of a wrongful termination case.

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