Federal prohibitions against discrimination by gender or sex are found in title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 as amended and in regards to wages in the Equal Pay act of 1963 as amended. These laws prohibit covered entities from retaliating against an employee for pursuing their rights under this litigation or simply because they are a member of the protected class. Wrongful termination is a form of retaliation. These laws are enforced by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. (EEOC) A few states even allow wrongfully terminated workers to sue in tort (as opposed to asserting claims based in contract) and recover punitive damages and money for pain and suffering arising from the firing. Employees who have sued under tort theories for wrongful discharge have recovered large jury verdicts.
What Employers and Employees are Covered?
These statutes apply to employers with fifteen or more employers, local, state, and federal governments, employment agencies, and labor organizations. Prohibitions against retaliation apply to members of the protected class.
What to do if You are Terminated
If you are terminated or are about to be terminated because of your age, you should:
- Not take any negative or destructive acts against your employer
- Familiarize yourself with the terms of your employment contract if you have one
- Inquire about the reasons for your discharge and get them in writing if possible
- Return any company property and follow all post employment procedures
- Review your personnel file
- Request and negotiate a severance package if appropriate, and get it in writing
- Find out if possible who made the decision to hire you
- Consult a lawyer specializing in employment law
Do You Need a Lawyer?
There are strict timelines to follow in pursuing a claim for gender discrimination, which would include wrongful termination because of your gender. You should contact the EEOC immediately when you feel your rights may have been violated. Additionally, if you feel you have been wrongfully terminated, consult a lawyer who specializes in employment law. They can advise you on the strength or weakness of your case, give you information about what you need to prove your case.
Termination of employment as retaliation because of your gender is discrimination and illegal under federal and state law. The EEOC enforces the various laws relating to employment and discrimination. There are strict timelines involved in pursing your rights under these laws. Consult competent legal counsel to assist you.