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Understanding Your Rights and the Role of an Employment Attorney

wrongful termination employment attorney

Losing a job is already a challenging experience, but when termination feels unjust or discriminatory, it can be even more distressing.

Wrongful termination occurs when an employee is fired in violation of their legal rights, which can be a violation of federal or state laws or a breach of an employment contract.

If you believe you have been wrongfully terminated in Arizona, it’s essential to understand your rights and the potential legal options available to you.

In this comprehensive post, we will delve into the concept of wrongful termination in Arizona and the role of an employment attorney in seeking justice.

Understanding Wrongful Termination in Arizona

At-Will Employment

Arizona is an “at-will” employment state, which means that an employer can terminate an employee for any reason or no reason at all, as long as it does not violate any federal or state laws.

Similarly, an employee can resign from their position anytime for any reason.

However, this does not mean employers have absolute power to terminate employees without consequences.

Protected Classes under Federal and State Laws

Employees in Arizona are safeguarded by federal laws, such as the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA), which prohibit termination based on protected characteristics such as race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, disability, or genetic information.

Arizona also has its own state laws that protect additional classes, including marital status and sexual orientation.

Breach of Employment Contract

If an employee has an employment contract, whether written or implied, and the termination violates the terms of the contract, it may be considered wrongful termination.

Employment contracts can include details on the duration of employment, reasons for termination, and specific procedures that must be followed before termination.

Retaliation

Employees in Arizona are also protected from retaliation for engaging in certain protected activities, such as whistleblowing or filing complaints about workplace harassment or discrimination.

If an employer terminates an employee as a result of retaliation, it may constitute wrongful termination.

wrongful termination employment attorney
Photo by Edmond Dantès

Constructive Discharge

In some cases, employees may choose to resign from their positions due to intolerable working conditions created by the employer.

This is known as “constructive discharge.” If an employee can demonstrate that the working conditions were so adverse that they had no choice but to resign, it may be considered a wrongful termination.

Role of an Employment Attorney

Legal Consultation

If you suspect you have been wrongfully terminated, seeking the advice of an experienced employment attorney is crucial.

They can evaluate the circumstances of your case, assess whether your rights were violated, and inform you about the best course of action.

Gathering Evidence

An employment attorney can help gather evidence to support your claim of wrongful termination.

This may include documentation of discriminatory practices, emails, witness testimonies, performance reviews, and any relevant employment contracts or agreements.

Filing Complaints

In some cases, employees may need to file administrative complaints with government agencies, such as the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) or the Arizona Civil Rights Division, before pursuing a lawsuit.

Negotiation and Settlement

An employment attorney can negotiate with your former employer or their legal representatives to seek a fair settlement, which may include reinstatement, back pay, front pay, and other forms of compensation.

Litigation

If a resolution cannot be reached through negotiation, an employment attorney can represent you in court, advocating for your rights and presenting your case before a judge or jury.

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Wrongful Termination Claims in Arizona

To sue for wrongful termination in Arizona, employees must demonstrate that their dismissal violated existing employment laws or public policy.

Wrongful termination claims may arise from various situations, including but not limited to:

  • Discrimination based on protected characteristics.
  • Retaliation for reporting workplace misconduct or illegal activities.
  • Retaliation for participating in protected activities, such as filing workers’ compensation claims.
  • Breach of an employment contract or implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing.
  • Termination due to taking legally protected leaves, such as family and medical leave.

The Importance of Timely Action

In Arizona, there are time limitations for filing wrongful termination claims.

Generally, employees have 180 days from the date of termination to file a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) for federal claims.

For state claims, the deadline is 300 days from the date of termination. Failing to meet these deadlines may result in the forfeiture of the right to pursue legal action.

Conclusion

Wrongful termination is a serious matter that can significantly affect an individual’s life and career.

In Arizona, employees are protected from unjust termination based on certain criteria, such as discrimination or retaliation.

If you believe you have been wrongfully terminated, it’s essential to consult with an experienced employment attorney who can guide you through the legal process, help gather evidence, and represent your interests in seeking justice.

Remember, understanding your rights and seeking legal advice promptly can be vital in pursuing a successful wrongful termination claim in Arizona.

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