Hi, I’m Jamie Gilmore, an employment attorney with Bailey & Galyen. Following a workplace termination, it is normal to feel betrayed, embarrassed, and angry. You may be confused about what your options are or what steps to take next. These feelings are amplified if you were unjustly terminated and suffered from workplace discrimination, harassment, or retaliation. Consulting an attorney is an important first step to confronting and resolving those feelings.
The first step is to determine if you were wrongfully terminated? There is a difference in something being “wrong” and something being “illegal.” While you may believe that your termination was wrong, it may not be illegal. There are many state and federal laws that protect employees in the United States, and those laws determine whether the termination was “illegal.” There are a few different buzz words that people use to describe what they believe is a wrongful employment action: harassment, discrimination, hostile work environment, and retaliation. However, these terms have specific definitions and meanings under the law, and not every incident of harassment, discrimination, hostile work environment, or retaliation is illegal.
For the most part, workplace harassment, discrimination, hostile environment, or retaliation are only considered “illegal” or “against the law” if the actions are because of age, sex, race, religion, national origin, disability, or color, or in response to a complaint you made about treatment because of age, sex, race, religion, national origin, disability, or color. Any other harassment, discrimination, hostile work environment or retaliation are just not illegal.
Here is a common situation: you are being harassed or treated differently than your co-workers because your co-worker doesn’t like you or because you told your boss that your co-worker is lazy. These are not illegal employment practices. This is not illegal harassment or discrimination unless your co-worker doesn’t like you because of your age, sex, race, religion, national origin, disability, or color. And it is not illegal retaliation unless you told your boss that your co-worker doesn’t do her job and discriminates against you because of your age, sex, race, religion, national origin, disability, or color.
The first thing I tell any new client is to preserve all documents and electronic communications. It is easy to misplace documents and delete emails, but those items are important to your case. The second thing I tell them is to apply for unemployment benefits. There are important things that you need to mention when filing your unemployment claim, and an employment attorney can explain that process for you.
However, the most important thing that to do is contact an employment attorney to help educate you to take some of the anger, embarrassment, and anxiety off the shoulders of you. Your life has been tossed upside down, and an attorney is there to counsel you through the turbulent times and provide you with honest legal advice and representation.
At Bailey & Galyen, we offer free consultation with experienced employment attorneys and staff to give you a legal assessment and offer a path forward. Call me to discuss your employment situation today.