If you believe you are the victim of wrongful termination (discrimination, whistleblower, retaliation, breach of contract, etc.), there are certain steps you should consider taking immediately. The following is general information and you should not rely on it for your individual circumstances; CONSULT OUR OFFICE IF YOU THINK YOU HAVE A CASE BECAUSE DETAILS MATTER AND THERE ARE EXCEPTIONS.
First, you have a duty to find another job, so starting the job search and documenting it is essential. Your local library is an excellent source for materials on job hunting.
Second, you should apply for unemployment compensation. Often employers will not contest it and less often will it be denied it they do. If you think you may have a case for wrongful termination, visit our web site for more information and then if you still think that there are issues to consider, call to set up an appointment. We will consider proof of your case and damages early on, including for emotional distress.
Third, see a doctor. Get help for stress and other psychological issues commonly arising from being fired. That should be the main reason you seek counseling. Report all symptoms to your primary care physician. It may also help prove your emotional distress damages. While proof of emotional distress by an expert is not required, counseling and medication, may be available to help deal with the stress of job loss and feelings of anger and/or depression arising from the act of discrimination / wrongful termination. An expert can help prove such damages and the Courts are requiring more in the way of proof than they used to.
Fourth is to keep records! Records are very important as they help prove your case. Record all of the events and conversations at your former employer: the who, what, where, when. In this case, keeping records of the effect of the emotional distress on your life, e.g. depression, loss of sleep, anger, diminished enjoyment of life, and stress on relationships will help. You can always go back and fill in all parts of an events journal to completely document earlier periods regarding the acts leading to your termination.
We always get in a wrongful termination case the personnel record. A recent amendment to the state’s personnel records statute, G. L. c. 149, section 52C, requires employers to notify employees when an unfavorable report is added to their files within 10 days of its filing. This covers anything “to the extent that the information is, has been, or may be used in a negative employment action or decision such as disciplinary action.” If you receive such notice, you should take some steps to re-evaluate your actions in the work place. As an employment attorney, I can advise you in more detail about steps that you may want to consider to try to avoid getting fired and what to do if/when that happens.
Always consider whether or not you are an employee-at-will. With exceptions, most employees are considered under the law as employees–at-will. This legal term means that, with certain very important exceptions (e.g. categories of possible discrimination) you may be dismissed for any reason or no reason at all. This does not mean, however, that you can be discriminated against, or face retaliation or other grounds for wrongful termination. You should also consult me, about the circumstances and for help to weigh your options.