According to a report by ACLU, more than 80 million people are employed in the private sectors of the American economy, and only 20 million are union members protected by unfair dismissal by bargaining agreements. The remaining workers are employed “at will.”
The Christmas holiday season is around the corner, and employees expect their employers to send gifts and goodies. However, this is the peak time when employees are laid off because of reasons like wage disputes, time off pay over the holidays, and overtime.
Did you also receive a termination letter from your employer and don’t know what to do next? New York is an at-will state, so the employees usually don’t have many options for wrongful termination.
However, you can still take legal action if you know your rights as an employee. Read on to learn what wrongful termination is and how you can get employment benefits from your employer.
What is Wrongful Termination?
Simply put, wrongful termination is dismissing an employee for an illegal reason. Even in an at-will state like New York, the employees are protected by federal and state employment laws.
For a firing to meet the definition of wrongful dismissal, it must violate a state or federal law or employment agreement between the employer and the affected employee.
For example, firing someone over their disability would violate federal civil rights law, and thus, it qualifies as wrongful termination.
Moreover, the employee must be compensated for the damages caused for violating those laws, such as lost wages and benefits.
Have You Been Wrongfully Terminated Close to Christmas Period? Here are 5 Situations to Be Sure About it
Since there are no specific laws that govern wrongful termination in at-will states like New York. Therefore, determining whether you were unethically laid off can be challenging.
Here are five situations to be sure that your employer has wrongfully terminated your employment.
Situation 1: The Termination was in Breach Of Your Employment Contract
The most common reason behind wrongful termination during Christmas is employees asking for the benefits promised in the agreement. Some employers offer lucrative perks such as paid holiday leaves to hire workers.
However, when the time arrives and the employees request these benefits, they are threatened with termination. If you asked for overtime pay and got a termination letter instead, chances are that you have been wrongfully terminated by the employer.
Situation 2: You Engaged in a Protected Legal Act
Employees across the country hold special rights with which no employer can interfere. Such action should include acting as whistle-blowers and reporting unethical or unlawful business operations such as filing for worker’s compensation.
If you engaged in such activities and received a termination letter afterward, it qualifies as wrongful dismissal. Employers in New York are prohibited from retaliating against their workers who exercise the legal right to complain or report certain workplace issues, such as:
- Illegal discrimination or harassment
- Violations of wage and hour laws
- Health and safety violations
- On-the-job injuries
Situation 3: You Were Fired Because You Served a Jury Duty
Christmas time remains the busiest for most businesses, and employees taking leaves during this time can lead to termination of employment. When an employee serves jury duty, they are protected from job termination.
If you also have appeared for jury duty, it is illegal for your employer to threaten or dismiss you from the job. However, employers in New York are not required to pay employees who take-off work days for serving jury duty.
It is important for the employees to give reasonable notice to the employers to prevent termination from their job or other consequences.
Situation 4: You Discussed Labor/Workplace Issues with Co-workers
The Christmas season brings along a lot of stress for employees, so it is natural for them to discuss workplace issues with their peers. If you recently discussed such issues with any of your co-workers and were dismissed shortly thereafter, you may have a case for wrongful dismissal.
If you had the conversation in good faith, you even have grounds to file a lawsuit against the company for wrongful dismissal since the National Labor Relations Act offers you the protection.
Situation 5: Your Employer Discriminated Against You
According to federal and state employment laws in the United States, it is illegal for any employer to discriminate against and fire their employees on the basis of religion, sex, race, and national origin.
Discrimination or sexual harassment in the workplace know no season, and it also happens during Christmas or holiday time.
Do you suspect your employer wrongfully terminated you? Contact Levine & Blit, and our wrongful termination lawyers will help you determine if you can stand a case against the employer.
Also, we evaluate the situations, review your employment contracts, and help you file a complaint with the right department, so you don’t have to go through the stress all alone.
Call us at 866-351-0116 for a free case evaluation and to discuss more about your case.
What are Your Rights Against Wrongful Termination?
Yes, New York is an at-will state, and employers can terminate their employees whenever they want. However, every terminated employee has some rights, especially against wrongful termination.
If your employer has laid you off by violating the law, you get some rights and protections offered by the state and federal agencies.
If your employment was under an individual or union/collective bargaining agreement with a workers compensation board, you would be covered under the stipulations in the contract upon the termination of employment.
You have the right to receive the benefits or perks as mentioned in the employment contract and agreed upon by the employer.
These rights are provided by state and federal law, such as advance notification of the closing or unemployment insurance (depending on the size of the company).
It would be great to talk to an expert unlawful termination lawyer at Levine and Blit to know your statutory rights as an employee in New York.
When an employer plans a layoff, they might have a severance plan in effect. If so, severance packages may be offered if your employment is dismissed by the company. However, there is no state or federal law that requires employers in New York to offer severance packages in the event of termination of employment.
In order for these rights to be valid, you should prove that you were wrongfully terminated by the employer. The rights even protect you in case of mass layoffs, provided it is proved that the employer violated the laws while terminating the employees.
What is Severance? Should You Accept it?
To prevent any legal actions from the employees, many businesses offer severance packages. These plans might extend the lost benefits such as continued health insurance, and most employees accept them without any second thoughts.
While the severance pay might look like a goodwill gesture, it is not, especially when you have been wrongfully terminated.
Understanding Severance Pay
A severance package is offered to workers in certain circumstances after their employment ends or is terminated. The New York employment law does not require employers to pay severance to employers, but most companies have severance benefits outlined in their employee handbook, so they are obliged to pay it.
Here are some benefits the severance package may include:
- Compensation for accrued and unused vacation time, holiday pay or sick days
- Retirement benefits and stock options
- Extra pay based on the time an employee has served a company
Should You Accept the Severance Pay?
According to expert job termination lawyers, it is not a wise decision for an employee to accept the severance right away after it has been offered to them. Losing your job during the holiday season can be stressful, as there are a lot of expenses lined up, but that should not affect your decision to accept the severance.
What Should I do if I Was Offered a Severance?
Every potential retaliation claim is unique, so you should contact a lawyer to discuss whether accepting the severance is right for you or not. The attorneys will review your employment contract to tell you what benefits you are entitled to and if receiving them requires you to accept the severance.
Contact Levine & Blit at 866-351-0116 if you were offered a severance by the former employer upon termination of your employment.
What to do if You Were Wrongfully Terminated Close to Christmas?
Receiving a termination letter from your employer can be painful, especially during the Christmas season, when your expenses are lined up already. However, termination from employment doesn’t mean you cannot do anything about it. Here are some steps you should take after a wrongful dismissal.
Talk to the HR
Sometimes your termination might be merely a mistake, and it usually happens in the event of mass layoffs. The first step should be talking to HR to understand the reason behind your layoff.
You can easily determine if the layoff was ethical or if it was based on some of your recent activities that come under a protected category by law.
Review Your Contract
Next, you should review your employment contract to understand the benefits you are entitled to receive. You can also determine if the termination was as per the terms mentioned in the agreement.
Contact New York Wrongful Termination Lawyer
Wrongful termination lawyer helps you with plenty of things after you have been unfairly terminated. For example, the attorneys review your contract and tell you if the termination was as per the agreement.
In addition, the lawyers help you if you want to opt for severance pay. The legal professionals negotiate with the attorneys on your behalf, keeping your best interests in mind.
Gather Your Evidence
If you want to go ahead and file a lawsuit against the employer, you need to prove you were wrongfully terminated. Gather evidence, such as a termination letter or employment contract.
Communication with your employer can also serve as evidence if it shows that you were wrongfully terminated.
Note: In a state like New York, the eavesdropping law makes it illegal to use a device to record or overhear in-person conversations.
File a Lawsuit Against the Employer
If the reason behind the termination violates the law, then you have the right to file a lawsuit against the employer. With the help of an experienced wrongful termination attorney, you can understand if there’re enough strong grounds to file a case against the employer.
Furthermore, the legal professionals will handle everything, such as the paperwork required to file a complaint and send legal notices to the employer.
Proving wrongful termination in an at-will employment state like New York can be difficult, so make sure to have the best lawyers that have assisted their clients with wrongful termination cases. At Levine & Blit, we are a team of fearless employment attorneys that can help you with all your wrongful termination needs.
Whether you want to file a case against your employer or want us to negotiate on a severance, we can handle it all. Call us at 866-351-0116 and speak to the most professional wrongful termination attorneys in New York.
What Laws Protect You During a Layoff?
Although there are no laws, particularly for termination of employment, there are some statutes that protect employees from illegal firing. Here are a few of them that every employee should know about:
Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA)
If you are over 40 and have been dismissed by your employer because of your age, you are protected by the law. Also, this law increases the period of accepting severance to up to 21 days and another seven days if you wish to revoke the agreement. (Read more about 5 types of discrimination in the workplace).
Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964
The act prohibits employers from terminating someone’s employment based on their race, sexual orientation, gender identity, marital status, national origin, and pregnancy.
Americans with Disability Act (ADA) of 1990
According to the act, employers cannot fire someone based on their disabilities. Also, the act protects employees that are in relation with someone who has a disability.
Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA)
According to the act, eligible employees can take up to 12 work weeks of unpaid job-protected leave (26 to offer care to a servicemember). The act also states that employees must get continued health insurance coverage.
Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification (WARN) Act
The WARN Act set rules for employers to notify employees about plant closures and large layoffs. The employer must provide every employee a written notice 60 days before the date of a mass layoff. In New York, employers are required to give a notice 90 days before the planned event.
Lost Your Job? Don’t Lose Your Employment Benefits! Contact Levine & Blit Today!
Losing your job close to Christmas can feel like a nightmare. Plus, if the employer denies offering the benefits you are entitled to receive, things can get even more challenging.
However, with the help of New York employment lawyers at Levine & Blit, you can sort through the fact and access the strength of your wrongful termination case. We will ensure that you obtain maximum compensation and rights in return.
Whether you want to negotiate a severance, get your employment restored, or file a wrongful termination lawsuit against the employer, our lawyers can walk you through the available options while helping you decide on how best to proceed.