Plenty of employees hate their employer. Plenty of employers don’t treat their employees well. However, general animosity between employer and employee is not necessarily grounds for any kind of lawsuit — until it is.
You can launch lawsuit after lawsuit against your employer, but you will be wasting your money — and endangering your employment potential — unless you have a real case. Here are a few examples of legitimate cases you might have against an employer and what you can do to get your due.
It is natural to feel frustrated and upset when you get let go from a position, and you might even feel that your termination was unfair. However, you shouldn’t sue your employer for wrongful termination unless your termination falls into a particular category that is possible to litigate. In truth, you can sue your employer over any termination, but you will likely be wasting your time and money — and get nothing to show for the lawsuit — unless your termination was the result of something like the following:
- Sexual harassment
- Hostile work environment
- Race discrimination
- Violation of the Family and Medical Leave Act
- Wage and hour disputes
Technically, termination for whistleblowing on your employer — that is, reporting fraud, abuse, corruption or other public concerns — is a legal issue called “retaliation,” which is also a good reason to fight your former employer, but you should hire experienced retaliation attorneys, like those at Halunen Law, instead of a run-of-the-mill employment law attorney.
Unfortunately, you can be discriminated against at work without suffering a wrongful termination. In fact, a study on U.S. employees found that roughly three in five American workers have either witnessed or personally experienced discrimination based on age, race, gender or sexual orientation. Yet, as with other employment cases, you shouldn’t launch a lawsuit simply because you feel that you are treated unfairly. To win a discrimination case, you need evidence that your employer is treating you differently, like unequal pay, failure to grant reasonable accommodations or exclusion from coworkers. The more evidence you have, and the more detailed your evidence, the better.
Like discrimination, harassment can occur without termination. Unlike discrimination, harassment involves inappropriate behavior, especially that which makes you feel unwanted or uncomfortable. Often, harassment is difficult to prove because it tends to occur in person, in environments without witnesses, and the inappropriate behavior can be subtle or easy to explain away. Bullying by coworkers is a common example of harassment, but you might also experience harassment as suggestive facial expressions or turns of phrase. If you plan to file a harassment claim, you need plenty of documentation of the behavior, such as complaints to management and HR.
Everyone makes mistakes, even employers. While one incorrect paycheck shouldn’t be a significant cause for concern, you might need to file a lawsuit if your employer consistently makes payment mistakes and refuses to rectify them. Still, before you start legal action, you should pursue every possible avenue for payment correction, from talking to your manager to talking to HR to making sure you didn’t make your own mistake clocking in or out. If you are absolutely not at fault and your boss tries to dissuade you from seeking your full, owed compensation, you need to talk to an attorney about your options.
Your workplace should do everything in its power to keep its employees safe. Thus, you have the right to file a workplace injury lawsuit even if your employer conforms to OSHA rules and regulations. Though many workers think of workplace injuries as issues like toxic chemical exposure, damage from falling objects or slips or violence from a coworker, the truth is that you can have a successful lawsuit for white-collar injuries like carpal tunnel syndrome or spinal compression if your evidence of workplace negligence is sound. As always, you should take the time to document your injury well, keeping evidence of doctor’s visits and HR complaints, which can be valuable during the course of your lawsuit.
Even if you love your employer and want to see them succeed, you should be willing to file a lawsuit if you are not being treated fairly at your job. You should pay attention to your workplace environment and keep your own records of interactions, just in case you do need to develop a legal case against your employer.