Wrongful Termination

When workers are fired, laid off, or otherwise discharged for unlawful reasons, they are victims of wrongful termination. Massachusetts employees who are wrongfully terminated may seek justice by availing themselves of protections under both federal and state laws. Problem with your employer? Reach out to experienced wrongful termination lawyers at Gordon Law Group today by calling 1-800-403-7755 or by completing our online contact form.

What Qualifies As A Wrongful Termination?

Holding an employer accountable for wrongful termination in Massachusetts isn’t an easy or straightforward process. The discriminatory or retaliatory nature of the circumstances leading to a
wrongful termination can be difficult to prove.

Broadly speaking, wrongful termination is any firing, layoff, or discharge scenario that occurs under unlawful circumstances. Most of the time, a termination is classified as wrongful if it involved conduct that is considered unlawfully discriminatory or retaliatory as defined by federal and/or state law.

There are a number of federal and state laws that define what it means for employer conduct to be unlawfully discriminatory or retaliatory. At the federal level, wrongfully terminated employees often file claims related to infringement of their rights as articulated by the following laws:

  • Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 (ADEA) – Prohibits employers from discriminating against workers (40 years of age and older) due to age and prohibits retaliation related to an employee’s exercise of their rights related to complaining about age-based discrimination and/or participation in discrimination-based investigations and lawsuits.
  • Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) – Prohibits discrimination against employees as a result of their disabilities and requires that employers make reasonable accommodations for otherwise qualified workers unless doing so would create an undue hardship for their business. This law also prohibits retaliation based on a worker's exercise of their rights related to complaining about disability-based discrimination or participation in discrimination-based investigations and lawsuits.
  • Equal Pay Act of 1963 (EPA) – Prohibits retaliation related to an employee's exercise of their rights related to complaining about pay-based discrimination or participation in discrimination-based investigations and lawsuits.
  • Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act of 2008 (GINA) – Prohibits discrimination against a worker due to their genetic information and prohibits retaliation related to an employee’s
    exercise of their rights related to complaining about genetics-based discrimination or participation in discrimination-based investigations and lawsuits.
  • Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Title VII) – Prohibits discrimination on the basis of color, national origin, pregnancy (as well as childbirth and medical conditions related to pregnancy and childbirth), race, religion, and sex. This law also prohibits retaliation based on a worker’s exercise of their rights related to complaining about unlawful discrimination or participation in discrimination-based investigations and lawsuits.

Employees are also protected, generally at both the state and federal levels, from termination based on their exercise of a legally-protected right. For example, federal law prohibits employers from retaliating against workers who have taken a protected leave of absence per the terms of the Family and Medical Leave Act. In Massachusetts, state law prohibits the same kind of retaliatory conduct per the terms of the state’s Paid Family and Medical Leave statute.

Additionally, wrongfully terminated employees in Massachusetts often assert their rights as articulated by the Massachusetts Fair Employment Practices Act. This law, which applies to all employers operating in the state of Massachusetts that have at least six employees on their payroll, prohibits discrimination based on the following:

  • Age
  • Color
  • Disability
  • Gender Identity
  • National Origin
  • Race
  • Religious Creed
  • Sex
  • Sexual Orientation

If you’ve been wrongfully terminated, you can potentially seek redress at both the federal and state level.

Can Wrongfully Terminated Employees Sue?

Workers who have been wrongfully terminated are generally empowered to sue their employers as a result of the mistreatment they’ve suffered. However, there are specific processes and protocols that must be followed before a wrongfully terminated worker can obtain redress.

Most of the time, the process of suing an employer begins when a worker schedules a confidential legal consultation with an attorney experienced in the area of employment law. The attorney will then assist the worker in filing a discrimination or retaliation complaint with the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). The EEOC will then conduct its own investigation and determine whether it wants to sue the employer on the worker’s behalf or issue the worker a “right to sue” release that will allow them to proceed on their own.

While the EEOC is investigating your complaint, your attorney will likely begin the process of filing a lawsuit in Massachusetts state court. Be advised that you are only granted 30 days after the date upon which you were wrongfully terminated to file a lawsuit in Massachusetts state court unless an exception to this statute of limitations applies in your case. This means that you’ll be barred from seeking compensation at the state level if you don’t act at once to protect your rights and preserve your legal options.

What If A Severance Offer Has Been Made?

If you’ve been offered severance and you believe that you’ve been terminated under unlawful conditions, don’t accept the terms of the offer until an attorney has thoroughly reviewed the
circumstances of your case with you. You’ll want to schedule a confidential legal consultation quickly, as your employer has probably only given you a few days to review, accept, or reject the offer.

When employees accept the terms of a severance offer, they generally sign away their rights to sue their employer at any time in the future. This means that, if you accept this offer, you might lose your right to hold your employer accountable for your mistreatment and lose your right to pursue any additional compensation that you might be rightfully owed.

Sometimes, it makes sense to accept the terms of a severance offer. If, for whatever reason, your case would be nearly impossible to prove, accepting the terms offered may be in your best interests. However, you won’t know for sure whether you’re in a strong position to sue or whether you should take the severance offer you’ve been extended until an attorney has advised you of your rights and options. Additionally, it’s important to have a lawyer review the “fine print” in severance contracts, as there may be relatively hidden terms that could impact your ability to seek gainful employment in your industry while working close to home for a while.

Connect With A Massachusetts Wrongful Termination Lawyer Today To Learn More

If you suspect that you have a wrongful termination lawsuit on your hands, you have no time to waste. Get in touch with the experienced wrongful termination lawyers at Gordon Law Group today by calling 1-800-403-7755 or by completing our online contact form today. Our Boston employment lawyers can help protect the strength, integrity, and overall value of your wrongful termination case.