Unlawful Firing Explained and When to Seek Legal Counsel

Unlawful firing, also known as wrongful termination, happens when an employee is dismissed from their job in violation of federal, state, or local laws.

Understanding the nuances of unlawful firing is crucial not only for employees seeking justice but also for employers aiming to maintain legal compliance.

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What Constitutes Unlawful Firing?

Unlawful firing can take many forms, each defined by specific legal parameters. The most common causes for wrongful termination include –

  • Discrimination: Firing an employee based on race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, disability, or genetic information is prohibited under various federal laws, i.e., Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, the ADEA (Age Discrimination in Employment Act), and the ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act).
  • Retaliation: Employers are forbidden from firing employees as retaliation for engaging in legally protected activities. It includes filing a complaint about workplace discrimination, participating in an investigation, or reporting on illegal activities within the company.
  • Violation of Public Policy: Termination is deemed wrongful if it violates public policy. For example, firing an employee or worker for refusing to engage in illegal activities or for exercising a legal right (such as voting or serving on a jury) falls under this category.
  • Breach of Contract: If an employment contract explicitly outlines conditions under which an employee can be terminated, firing that employee outside of these conditions constitutes a breach of contract.
  • Constructive Discharge: Although not a direct form of firing, constructive discharge occurs when an employee resigns due to unbearable working conditions intentionally created by the employer to force the employee to quit.

Legal Recourse for Wrongful Termination

Victims of unlawful firing have several legal avenues to pursue justice –

  • Filing a Complaint with the EEOC: The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) investigates claims of discrimination and retaliation. Employees or workers must file a complaint with the EEOC before pursuing a lawsuit in federal court.
  • State-Level Agencies: Many states have their own employment laws and agencies that handle wrongful termination claims. These agencies often provide additional protections and remedies beyond federal law.
  • Lawsuits: Employees can file a civil lawsuit against their employer for wrongful termination. Successful claims can result in compensation for lost wages, emotional distress, punitive damages, and sometimes reinstatement to the job.
  • Alternative Dispute Resolution: Mediation and arbitration are less adversarial and quicker alternatives to lawsuits for resolving disputes through third parties.

The Role of Employment Lawyers

Navigating the complexities of wrongful termination claims often necessitates the expertise of unlawful firing lawyers (employment lawyers).

  • Case Evaluation: Employment lawyers assess the validity of a wrongful termination claim, examining the circumstances and evidence to determine if legal action is warranted.
  • Filing and Representation: Lawyers assist in filing complaints with the EEOC or state agencies, ensuring all procedural requirements are met. They also represent clients in court, advocating for their rights and interests.
  • Negotiation: Many wrongful termination cases are settled out of court. Lawyers negotiate settlements to secure fair compensation for their clients, considering factors like lost wages and emotional distress.
  • Legal Advice: Employment lawyers provide invaluable advice on legal rights and potential outcomes, helping clients make informed decisions throughout the process.
  • Litigation: In cases that go to trial, employment lawyers present evidence, question witnesses, and make compelling arguments to prove unlawful firing.

What to Look for While Hiring a Professional Unlawful Firing Lawyer?

  • Expertise in Employment Law: Choose a lawyer specializing in employment law, particularly wrongful termination cases, ensuring they are familiar with relevant laws and precedents. A record of successful results in similar cases is crucial.
  • Strong Communication Skills: Your lawyer should explain complex legal concepts clearly, keep you informed about your case, and be accessible. Transparency about legal fees and case expectations is also important.
  • Strategic Thinking and Analytical Skills: Look for a lawyer with strong strategic and analytical skills, capable of evaluating your case’s specifics and developing a tailored strategy. Proactive problem-solving and attention to detail are key attributes.
  • Negotiation and Litigation Skills: Ensure the lawyer is an effective negotiator and has experience securing favorable settlements. Additionally, they should have trial experience, and a successful courtroom record in case litigation is necessary.
  • Empathy and Personal Connection: Select a lawyer who demonstrates empathy and understands the emotional toll of wrongful termination. A strong personal connection can enhance communication and collaboration throughout your case.
  • Transparent Fee Structure: Ensure the lawyer provides a clear and transparent fee structure, explaining whether they charge an hourly rate, flat fee, or work on a contingency basis. Be aware of potential additional costs and ask for a detailed estimate.


Unlawful firing is a significant issue that disrupts lives and careers. Understanding the legal definitions and protections against wrongful termination is important for both employees and employers.

Employees who think they were wrongfully terminated should seek legal advice from the top unlawful firing lawyers such as those from Tong Law to understand their rights and explore their options. Employers, on the other hand, must strive to maintain fair and lawful workplace practices to avoid the repercussions of unlawful firing.

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