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New York Wrongful Termination Attorneys


Wrongful termination means firing an employee for an illegal reason. Even in at will employment states like New York, companies cannot fire employees for illegal reasons, such as discrimination or retaliation.

This article provides examples of wrongful termination and information about filing a wrongful termination lawsuit. Learn about the wrongful termination NY laws that protect employees, and locate wrongful termination lawyers to determine if you have a case. Charles Joseph provides a free consultation to help employees decide if they should file a wrongful termination lawsuit.


Know Your Rights

New York laws protect workers from wrongful termination. Even though New York is an at will employment state, employers cannot fire employees for protected reasons. This includes wrongful termination because of discrimination against the employee and unlawful termination as a form of retaliation.

If your rights have been violated by a wrongful termination, you may be entitled to reinstatement, back pay, compensatory damages, and other financial compensation.

What is Wrongful Termination?

Wrongful termination means firing someone for an illegal reason. While employers may be able to fire people for unfair reasons, wrongful termination NY laws protect employees from being fired for discriminatory or retaliatory reasons. For example, employers cannot fire all of their gay employees, nor can they fire women who complain about sexual harassment.

Examples of wrongful termination include:

  • A server at a high-end restaurant realizes that the restaurant is illegally withholding tips from the tip pool. After complaining to her supervisor, he switches the server to a less desirable shift and then fires her. This qualifies as retaliation.
  • A man testifies in a race discrimination investigation against his company. After the company has to pay a settlement because of the discrimination, the employer fires the man who testified in the case. This qualifies as retaliation.
  • An employee with a history of positive performance evaluations gets fired after he told his boss that he plans to transition genders. This is an example of transgender discrimination.
  • After a woman complains about sexual harassment, her boss fires her, claiming the woman simply isn’t a good fit for the company culture. This is retaliation.
  • A woman tells her boss that she is pregnant. A week later, she receives an unjustified negative performance review after a long history of positive feedback. She is then fired based on the one negative review. This is pregnancy discrimination.
  • An employee dealing with a sick parent asks their boss to take a few weeks off using the Family and Medical Leave Act. The next day, the company fires the employee. This is retaliation.

Employers can legally fire someone for coming in late or for a poor performance review. However, if the negative review was retaliatory or the company used the pretext of being late to fire someone who complained about discrimination, that may qualify as wrongful termination.

The wrongful termination NY laws protect employees from unlawful termination. Wrongful termination lawyers can help determine whether you have a case.

Wrongful Termination and At Will Employment

Many employees mistakenly believe that “at will employment” means you can be fired for any reason. This is incorrect. Even in an at will employment state like New York, employers cannot fire their employees because they fall into protected groups, which include gender, race, religion, and national origin. Firing someone because they belong to a protected category violates wrongful termination laws.

In addition, employers in an at will employment state cannot fire workers as an act of retaliation. If, for example, an employee complains about sexual harassment, their company cannot use that to justify terminating the employment contract.

Discrimination and Wrongful Termination

Employers cannot fire their employees for discriminatory reasons. In New York, laws protect employees who fall into certain groups from being fired because of their membership in a protected category. For example, an employer cannot fire someone because of their race, religion, or age.

Wrongful termination NYS protected categories include:

If you were illegally fired for discriminatory reasons, you can file a wrongful termination lawsuit against your employer.

Wrongful Termination and Retaliation

Employers cannot retaliate against employees by firing them. New York laws protect employees against retaliation, which includes firing an employee for making an internal or external complaint about discrimination or harassment.

Retaliation laws also protect employees who complain about wage theft, act as a whistleblower in certain circumstances, or complain about being denied medical leave.

Making a complaint about workers’ rights violations is a protected activity under New York laws.

Wrongful termination NY protected activities include:

  • Filing a discrimination or sexual harassment complaint, either with a supervisor, HR or an external agency.
  • Telling your boss about discrimination or harassment you witnessed at the company.
  • Acting as a witness in a sexual harassment or discrimination investigation or lawsuit against your company.
  • Reporting wage theft violations to a government agency, including violations of minimum wage laws, overtime laws, or tipped employee laws.
  • Refusing to carry out discriminatory orders.
  • Requesting accommodations for a disability or a religious practice.
  • Acting as a whistleblower against your company, or participating in an investigation against your employer.

If you were fired after engaging in a protected activity, you can file a wrongful termination lawsuit.

Other Examples of Wrongful Termination

Wrongful termination NY laws protect employees from being fired for discriminatory or retaliatory reasons. They also protect workers from other forms of unlawful termination.

Other examples of wrongful termination include:

  • An employee at a financial company realized that their employer was illegally withholding financial information from the government. The worker used certain whistleblower laws to file a complaint. When the company learned of the whistleblower complaint, they laid off the employee. This violates wrongful termination laws.
  • A home healthcare worker signed an annual contract with an agency that guaranteed a certain number of hours per week on average. When the employee complained about the company not fulfilling that part of the contract, she was fired and denied her last paycheck, even though the contract promised two weeks’ notice. This constitutes breach of contract.
  • An executive signed an employment contract stating that he can only be fired for failure to meet performance requirements. But he was fired after he suggested changing the company’s hiring policies to increase diversity after a an anonymous complaint about hiring discrimination. This may qualify as wrongful termination.
  • A restaurant server received a jury duty summons and informed her boss that she would have to miss work. Her boss said she was fired if she missed her shift. This counts as wrongful termination in NY state.

Wrongful termination lawyers can determine whether you were fired illegally, and help you file a wrongful termination lawsuit.

How to File a Wrongful Termination Lawsuit

Before filing a wrongful termination lawsuit, an employment lawyer can help determine whether you have a case. Wrongful termination NY laws only cover certain types of unlawful termination, and an employment lawyer can determine whether you have a case.

In a wrongful termination lawsuit, you can receive back pay, front pay, compensatory damages, and reinstatement at your job. Wrongful termination settlements can provide financial security while you look for a new job.

Reach out to Charles Joseph for a free consultation if you are the victim of wrongful termination.

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