Most employment is "at-will," meaning an employer can fire an employee for any reason or even no reason at all. However, there are legal protections for certain types of employment decisions. An employer cannot terminate an employee for reasons of race, national origin, sex, disability, religion, age or pregnancy. An employer cannot terminate an employee for taking advantage of the Family Medical Leave Act. An employer cannot terminate an employee for reporting unsafe working conditions or whistleblowing on unethical practices. If you have been terminated for any of these reasons, you can file a complaint with the U.S. Department of Labor.
Items you will need
- Termination letter
- Employment information
- Supporting documentation of wrongful discharge
Wrongful Termination Due to Discrimination
File a complaint with the U.S. Equal Opportunity Commission within 180 days if you believe your termination was based on age, race, sex, pregnancy, religion, national origin or disability.
Complete the EEOC online assessment tool to determine whether they are the appropriate agency with which to file your claim. The assessment tool can be found at https://egov.eeoc.gov/eas/
Print out the questionnaire after you have completed the online assessment. It will be part of the packet you take to file the wrongful termination claim.
Gather any evidence such as letters of termination, performance evaluations, names and contact information of potential witnesses and employment documentation.
File the complaint by bringing all this information into your nearest EEOC office. You may mail in the complaint along with a letter containing your name and contact information; the employers name and contact information; the number of employees employed; a description of the discriminatory events; the dates and times the events took place; and an explanation of why you believe you were discriminated against. Sign the letter; the EEOC cannot investigate without your signature.
Wrongful Termination Violating Family Medical Leave Act
File a wrongful termination claim with the Wage and Hour Division of the Department of Labor if you believe your termination violated the Family Medical Leave Act. You must file within two years of your termination.
Gather the information about your termination and the illness that proceeded it. Gather basic information such as the name of your former company, the business' location and contact information, your manager's name, the type of work that you did, and how and when you were paid.
Take this information to a local Wage and Hour Department of Labor office (see Resources for locations). Consult with a specialist who will review your options with you.
Wrongful Termination Violating the Whistleblower's Act
Gather information about your employment conditions and termination. Put everything into writing, including names and contact information of people who could act as witnesses. Obtain a copy of the complaint you reported that you believe got you terminated. You have anywhere from 30 to 180 days to file your complaint, depending on the specific law violated.
File your complaint with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration division of the Department of Labor. File the complaint by calling your local OSHA office or mailing a letter explaining that you were terminated for whistleblowing (see Resources for office locations).
File your complaint with both the state and federal OSHA if you wish.
File your charge as soon as possible after your termination, as the period in which claims can be filed is limited.