To protect employees from unscrupulous employers that might have a hidden agenda behind firing someone, federal and state governments have instituted laws that dictate how and why employers can terminate employees. If you feel you have been terminated under suspicious or confusing circumstances, you may be within your rights to file a “wrongful termination lawsuit” against your employer.
According to the Department of Labor, employees have certain rights, even upon termination of their employment. You have a right to keep your job unless your employer has reasonable cause or other legal reason for firing you. After termination, you may be entitled to continued healthcare protection and unemployment benefits. The reason for termination is often a deciding factor as to whether or not those benefits will be granted to you.
10 Critical Deposition Questions in Wrongful Termination Cases
In wrongful termination cases, we may use depositions of employer’s representatives as part of our investigation into the circumstances that led to our client’s termination. In this deposition, a skilled court reporter Livingston NJ trust will record everything, and very often we find that the employer’s underlying reason(s) for firing our client did not qualify as reasonable cause. In some cases, the termination has been in direct violation of specific labor laws. Based on our years of experience, here are the 10 questions that we find most critical in the discovery process.
- Has the employee made complaints about working conditions? An employee has the right to make valid complaints about safety issues, work conditions, and/or potential illegal activities without impunity.
- Was the employee on the verge of qualifying for, or vesting in, company benefits? More than a few employers have used the termination process as a way to avoid giving tenured employees access to benefits such as bonuses, vacation pay, a 401(k) plan and/or stock ownership in the company.
- Were promises made to the employee? When employers make wild promises to motivate existing employees or recruit new ones, employees might quit when things don’t materialize. This could be what is called a constructive discharge. In some of these circumstances, the employer could have some liability.
- Have other employees been terminated under the same or similar circumstances? Employers are often judged by the consistency of their actions. If others have not been terminated after acting in the same fashion, the employer could be liable.
- Has the employee recently returned from an approved leave? The termination of an employee for taking unpaid time off under the Family and Medical Leave Act or military leave is a serious offense and the employer can be liable and face serious legal consequences.
- Did the employee make any disability accommodation requests? Disabled persons are entitled to certain accommodations under the Americans with Disabilities Act. The termination of an employee who has made such recent requests is unethical and illegal.
- Has the employee complained about harassment issues? The termination of an employee who complains about harassment can be considered suspicious and questionable.
- Has the employee complained about being discriminated against based on a legal classification or status? Employees can only be terminated for their actions, not based on their age, sex, race, religion, national origin, disability or any other legally protected status.
- What actions were taken to remedy the employment problem prior to termination? In many cases, employers are required to try to remedy employee problems prior to termination.
- What documentation is available? In many situations, employers are required to provide very detailed documentation related to the termination and prior interactions with the employee.
If you feel you have been victimized by a wrongful termination, we encourage you to contact us for a consultation. As an employee, you have certain legal rights and protections. We can work with you to determine if you have a valid wrongful termination case.
Thanks to our friends from Veritext for their added insight into depositions for a motorcycle accident.