It’s never pleasant to be fired or laid off from your place of employment, but there are times when it is outright illegal. This is known as “wrongful termination.” While in Washington state, as in most of the country, employees can be fired “at will,” meaning for any reason or no reason at all, an employer may not terminate an employee for an illegal reason. There are legal restrictions to what seems to be the all-encompassing power of the employer. Wrongful termination takes place when an employee is let go or fired based on a protected status, such as race, age, gender, etc., because of the employee’s status as a whistleblower, or when the termination is retaliatory against an employee for exercising his or her legal rights. If you have been wrongfully terminated from employment, you need an experienced employment law attorney to advocate for your legal rights.
Our Wrongful Termination Attorney Is On Your Side
If you live or work in the greater Seattle area and have been wrongfully terminated by your employer, you owe it to yourself to consult with Sapphire Legal, an employment law firm whose lead attorney is known for both her compassion and legal talent. Kristi Favard will be your ally and your attorney. She understands the emotional impact and stress caused by termination of employment and works hard to alleviate her clients’ worries. She has in-depth knowledge of state and federal employment laws and is a talented negotiator and litigator. More than that, she has a passion for obtaining justice for her clients. She will work tirelessly to get you the results you want, from reinstatement of your position to obtaining compensation for the lost wages and emotional distress you have endured as a result of the wrongful termination of your employment.
Laws Against Discriminatory Wrongful Termination
Although Washington is a state in which you can be fired “at-will,” there are a number of federal and state laws offering legal protection to employees, including, but not limited to:
- Title VII of the Civil Rights Acts of 1964
- The Pregnancy Discrimination Act
- The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA)
- The Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 (ADEA) for those over 40
- The Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act of 2008 (GINA)
- The Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act of 1994
- The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA)
- The Fair Labor Standards Act
- Wage-and-Hour Retaliation
- Washington’s Law Against Discrimination
- Whistleblower Protection Laws
- Washington’s Family Leave Act
Wrongful Termination as Discrimination
Employers can be held legally liable if they break federal or state laws by firing you for discriminatory reasons. Being fired for any of the following reasons is against federal law, even if another reason is used as the ostensible cause of your dismissal or some other excuse is given (which is referred to as “pretext” to discrimination):
- Skin color
- Ethnicity or country of origin
- Disability (physical, mental or psychiatric)
- Genetic information
- Veteran status
- Marital status
Washington state laws provide even more protection against discrimination by prohibiting employers from discriminating against employees based on sexual orientation, marital status, and gender identity or expression, in addition to the above reasons.
If you have been wrongfully terminated for discriminatory reasons, Sapphire Legal is here to stand up for your rights and obtain the justice you deserve. We will evaluate your case, investigate your employer’s history of past discriminatory behavior, interview witnesses and examine any documented evidence of unfair treatment we can obtain. We will then put everything together for your case and begin pursuing claims against your employer. Once you become a client of Sapphire Legal, you can count on Kristi Favard to fight hard to win your case.
Wrongful Termination as Breach of Contract
In some cases, employees work under contract — for a specific task and for a specific period of time. A breach of contract occurs when the employer fires the employee before the contract period has expired. As long as the employee has been meeting the demands of the contract, the employer is violating the law if it terminates the employee before the contract term ends. If you have an employment contract and believe it has been breached, Kristi will carefully review the contract in detail to determine your legal rights and will attempt to negotiate a fair settlement with your employer. If your employer is unreasonable, she will file a breach of contract lawsuit against your employer in a court of law to enforce your contractual rights.
Wrongful Termination for Whistleblowing
Employees are also legally protected from being fired for filing complaints about misconduct at the workplace, such as wage and hour violations, harassment, discrimination, bullying, poor sanitation, safety concerns, or environmental violations. Such complaints, known collectively as “whistleblowing,” are protected by both state and federal law. If you are concerned that you will be fired for your whistleblowing activities or you have already been fired in retaliation for whistleblowing, we can help you stand up to your employer.
Wrongful Termination for Written and Implied Promises
Your job may be protected by verbal agreements or promises made by your employer. While it is more difficult to prove the existence of a verbal agreement than a written one, you may have evidence in your personal records or employee handbook that will help prove your case. Also, another staff member may have heard conversations verifying your version of the facts. The documents and witness testimony will help establish your claims. Factors that may work in our favor in fighting your dismissal may be:
- Promised job duration at the time of hiring
- Time already spent at the job
- Promotions you have been given
- Positive performance reviews
- Assurances of continued employment
- Promised sequential discipline or warning before termination that you never received
Wrongful Termination as “Breach of Good Faith and Fair Dealing”
Your employer breaches its duties of good faith and fair dealing if you are terminated in order to:
- Prevent you from collecting sales commissions
- Prevent you from receiving bonuses
- Replace you with someone who will work for lower pay
Such a breach can also occur if your employer tries to force you to quit by worsening your working conditions, increasing your daily workload, or treating you badly. Such actions often occur when an employee has been with a company for a long time and is a high earner. An unethical employer may want to hire a younger, lower-cost employee but not want to pay severance rightfully owed to the older employee. Therefore, the older employee is treated in an unfair manner by the employer in the hope that the employee will voluntarily quit. If you are experiencing such actions by your employer, do not quit your job. Instead, reach out to us for help.
Damages Sapphire Legal Can Obtain for Wrongful Termination
Kristi Favard has successfully negotiated and litigated countless wrongful termination claims against employers. She may be able to help you win:
- Reinstatement to your former position
- Lost wages from the date of termination to the present
- Future lost wages if you haven’t been able to find employment by the time of trial
- Lost benefits, such as health insurance or stock options
- Monetary damages for psychological distress you have suffered
- A good or neutral job reference
- An agreement that the employer won’t dispute your application for unemployment benefits
- Payment for education and training
- Other remedies in accordance with your goals
Contact Our Everett Wrongful Termination Lawyer
In cases in which your employer is guilty of gross misconduct, such as racial discrimination, sexual harassment, fraud or defamation, Sapphire Legal may also be able to obtain additional damages designed to punish the defendant and discourage such egregious behavior. If you have been wrongfully terminated, you don’t have to be a victim and you still have rights against your employer even after you have been terminated. Contact our office and let us assist you in protecting your reputation and enforcing your legal rights against wrongful termination.