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Can I sue my employer if I’m Illegally Fired?

*This is a transcript of the Facebook Live video from 4-26-18  Click here to watch the video.

So, the illegal reasons to fire somebody would be their inclusion in those illegal categories. So what happens, can I sue my employer if I’m illegally fired? What do I have to do? Well, any time that you feel like you’re the victim of discrimination or illegal harassment, you should report to human resources or your boss or the owner of the company depending upon the size of the company.

Let’s say you’ve been fired so there’s really nobody to report it to. One thing you can do is go to the EEOC, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and file a complaint there. You need to make sure that when you’re filing there that you can factually tie the termination to the discrimination. So you want to be prepared to talk about the real reason you were fired. You want to tell the investigator I was fired because of my sex or because I reported illegal activity or because I complained about illegal harassment or because I went on jury duty or I filed a worker’s comp claim or whatever the issue is.

The EEOC is charged with investigating all cases of illegal discrimination that occurs in the United States. They have district offices that do this. They have a lot of work to do and they tend to focus on particular cases. What they focus on tends to change over time. So, sometimes the EEOC for whatever reason even though you may have a meritorious claim may not take your case. In fact, I’ll tell you, I’ve done this for over 25, almost 30 years and I can count on one hand the number of cases I’ve been involved in where the EEOC has taken a case and prosecuted it for an individual or a group of individuals.

The vast majority of cases, the individual is given a right to sue letter and then that allows that person then to file that complaint in federal court within 90 of receiving the right to sue letter to pursue the case in court. So, if you file with the EEOC you really ought to consider going to see a private attorney either before or shortly after you file the EEOC complaint so that attorney can help you, A, work with the EEOC to get the best result possible there, but also to start to prepare for the possibility that you may have to file your own lawsuit. That can be very time consuming, it can be very expensive, but if the action has meant that you’ve been out of work for a long period of time then it’s definitely worth pursuing if you have a valid claim.

These claims are very dependent on the factual circumstances of your situation. So it’s very, very difficult to compare one case with another. You really have to look at each case standing alone. So, that’s why it’s important to go see an attorney as soon as you can because the chances are that the EEOC won’t take your case and even if they do take your case that becomes the EEOC’s case at that point and they’re the ones who call the shots. Now, they’ve got a great track record for making sure that people are compensated fairly but it’s always good to have your own counsel to help move the process along.

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