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How Do You Prove Wrongful Termination?

by | May 1, 2023 | Employment Law |

How to Prove Wrongful Termination

Employment cases follow the same pattern of analysis: (a) an employee states that they are wrongfully terminated (terminated/suspended or written up because of a protected characteristic (age, gender, disability, race, etc.) or in retaliation for a complaint about illegal or unethical behavior in the workplace); (b) employer then must show that the negative employment action was motivated by a legitimate business need; and (c) the employee must then show that the employer’s reason is false or is a pretext for their true discriminatory intent.  This is the analytical framework outlined in a 1973 U.S. Supreme Court case called McDonnell Douglas v. Green, 411 U.S. 792 (1973).   

How Can I Sue for Wrongful Termination?

The facts of your case fit within this framework.  The fact that you were terminated and also fit in a protected category is not enough to sue your former employer. You must prove that the termination was because of your protected status.  Often, this is proved by showing that employees not in the same protected position as you were treated more favorably, i.e. that alleged performance issues for which you are written up or terminated were tolerated from favored employees.  The more documented evidence of your position, the stronger your claims.  You should be prepared to show your attorney these documents or if you don’t have them, you should be able to describe them to the best of your recollection and indicate where such documents may be located.  If they are emails, indicate approximately when they were sent, who sent them, to whom they were addressed etc.  If you have recordings of conversations, provide all the recordings, regardless of whether you think they are all relevant or not.  As you prepare for your meeting with your attorney, write out a list of witnesses and their contact information.  Remember that you have lived this fact pattern and need to convey as much information and detail as possible to your advocates.

How to File Wrongful Termination

I cannot stress the importance of being truthful with your attorney; share the good, the bad and the ugly.  You don’t want your attorney hearing about these details from opposing counsel without having been prepared before hand.  Every employment case starts with a back and forth between your attorney and opposing counsel.  The company’s attorney’s job is to convince you and your attorney that you were terminated for legitimate business reasons and that there was no discrimination or retaliation at play.  To do so, they must convince your counsel of problems with your performance, and as I often joke with clients, I am fully prepared to hear that you were the worst employee to ever darken their doorway.  While this strategy is to be expected, your attorney must be prepared for the facts and the necessary rebuttal.

You and your chosen attorney work together as a team and need to be on the same page, regarding the facts and the case strategy.  This means that you should feel comfortable asking a lot of questions and advocating for yourself.  Express your concerns to your counsel and listen carefully to their explanation of the law and the strategy.  It is important that you trust your legal team and that they trust you as well.

If you believe you have been wrongfully terminated in NJ, reach out to Hamilton Law Firm for assistance.