Getting let go from a job can take a devastating toll on your livelihood. You’re suddenly left without a paycheck and with insecurity for weeks and months to come. There are a number of reasons you might have been let go — and it’s possible that reason might not be legal. That’s why it’s important to know the grounds of your termination. If you were wrongfully terminated, a lawyer can advocate on your behalf and entitle you to compensation.

If your lawyer finds you’ve been wrongly let go, you could end up receiving a cash settlement from your employer. And potential compensation can range as high as $5,000 to 80,000.

Here is how a wrongful termination lawyer can help you.

When You Should Hire a Wrongful Termination Attorney

If you have been let go from a job, it’s important to know why it happened. Most U.S. workers are employed “at will” and can technically be fired for any reason or no reason at all. But there are federal and state laws that protect employees from being fired based on discriminatory or retaliatory measures. Sometimes, employers might even “lay off” employees instead of firing with a reason that turns out to be discriminatory and violate the law.

The following are a few scenarios in which you’d want to have a termination attorney on your side.

Discrimination

One of the strongest laws around unlawful termination is an anti-discrimination part of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. This makes it illegal for companies to fire an employee based on their:

  • Race or color
  • Sex or gender
  • Religion
  • Genetic information
  • National origin
  • Disability
  • Age

Retaliation

The OSHA’s Whistleblower Protection Program gives employees the right to report their employers for violations against the law. Reporting could be related to health and safety, consumer product, environmental, or other whistleblower statutes. This law makes it illegal for the employee to suffer any retribution for speaking out, which includes being terminated from their job. Constructive discharge, also known as being forced to resign, is another form of termination that could entitle you to compensation.

Pregnancies and Retirement

Companies cannot fire an employee because they are having a baby or approaching retirement. The Pregnancy Discrimination Act protects women from companies who may want to fire employees with reasons related to pregnancy, childbirth or related medical conditions. For workers over the age of 40, The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission prohibits employers from firing people of a certain age and approaching retirement.

How To Sue For Wrongful Termination

If you believe you were fired for any of these illegal reasons, then you should contact a wrongful termination lawyer. They will advocate for your rights, and you could receive compensation.

You can start by filing a wrongful termination claim through the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). You’ll have to provide information such as pay stubs, hiring and firing forms, witness testimonies and other files that can act as evidence in your claim. From there, the EEOC will investigate and might issue a remedy in the form of a severance package or penalties against the employer. You could also escalate the claim to a civil lawsuit.

Your lawyer can guide you through the process and be your voice during the civil suit. If you win or settle the lawsuit, the compensation you receive will ultimately depend on a number of factors related to your case. Some losses you could be compensated for include lost earnings, lost benefits, the costs of looking for a new job, emotional distress or medical expenses.

Search Online To Find A Wrongful Termination Lawyer

If you’ve decided to take action against your former employer for wrongful termination, then it’s time to find representation. You can start by talking to family or friends to see if they can recommend any good lawyers. If not, try a database to find a lawyer that’s right for you.

Avvo and Martindale are helpful sources you can consult. These database websites can refer you to local attorneys in your area. They can show you a lawyer’s practice areas, disciplinary records and lawyer reviews to help you find the right lawyer.

Lawyers can be expensive. If you want to get some law advice before pursuing legal action and hiring a lawyer, search for pro bono or free legal advice online. The American Bar Association website has sources to help you find free legal aid or pro bono organizations in Virginia. You can also ask lawyers if they provide free consultations before having to hire them.

Laws have been established in the U.S. to protect employees from discimination, retaliatory and unfair termination. Consult a lawyer if you’ve been let go from your job due to these reasons, and you could potentially receive compensation for it.