What NY workers need to know about their rights in cases of illegal retaliatory employment termination
NY Wrongful termination occurs when an employee is fired for an illegal reason. But NY wrongful terminations are rare. This is because most all New York employees are employees-at-will. An employee-at-will can be fired for any reason, or no reason at all. Fairness is not required.
The only way to remove yourself from the employment-at-will category is to have an employment contract or company policy manual that limits your employers ability to fire you.
NY Wrongful Termination Does Not Cover Unfair Firings
Many firings are based on fact disputes. For example, an employee might be fired for being late to work when the employee actually was not late. The employee who was fired for being late may feel that they were fired wrongfully. But legally, the firing was not wrongful because companies are allowed to fire employees for any reason at all, even based on a misunderstanding.
Being “let go” is never any fun, regardless of the reason. It is especially painful if the reason was unfair or based on a misunderstanding of the facts. The fact is that it hurts and it is embarrassing, not to mention the stress and worry about finding another job in today’s marketplace.
Unfortunately, as much as you might want to seek revenge by filing a claim or cause of action against your former employer for wrongful termination, you may not have a leg to stand on because of the employment-at-will rule. Often employees feel that they have been wronged simply because they have been loyal to the company for such a long time that they are entitled to more than just a goodbye.
When Does NY Wrongful Termination Occur?
NY Wrongful termination exists when the termination is unlawful. This occurs if the termination breached an existing employment agreement or violated one of the laws that protects New York employees.
Employees have the right to be protected from the breach of any oral or written contractual agreement between the employer and employee, as well as protection against any illegal acts by the employer.
For example, if the termination was not in accordance with the outlined procedures in the employment contract; if there was some form of employment discrimination involved regarding age, pregnancy, sex, disability, race, etc. or if there was some form of retaliation for reporting other acts of discrimination or violations of federal securities laws, there could be a claim or cause of action for NY wrongful termination.
Every case is different and each is determined on the specific details and circumstances of the termination of the employer-employee relationship.
Remedies for NY Wrongful Termination
In NY wrongful termination cases, employees can recover any lost income that resulted from the illegal firing. Other remedies such as punitive damages, compensation for emotional distress, legal fees and costs can also be recovered under certain laws.
For example, an employee fired due to a violation of the Family Medical Leave Act is entitled to recover double damages (twice the amount lost pay) as well as legal fees and costs. Likewise, the New York City Human Rights Law provides employees with the right to collect unlimited punitive damages for any form of employment discrimination or sexual harassment.
If you need help with a NY wrongful termination case, please contact The Ottinger Firm for a free consultation at 347-305-5427.