Wrongful dismissal cases (also called unfair dismissal claims) are the recourse offered to employees who have been terminated in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, the Americans With Disabilities Act, other federal statues, whistleblower protections, state laws or employment agreements. Essentially, what you should know as a worker is that if you have been fired illegally — despite the term, a firing simply being not “fair” isn’t enough — then you have the legal right to attempt to recover the money you lost as a result of being terminated. Actually figuring out how much money to seek, however, can be tricky, which is why it’s important to work with wrongful termination lawyers before getting involved in any sort of legal battle. To get you started in your research, however, here are the factors generally used to calculate wrongful dismissal compensation:
- Financial Expectations
The major consideration in wrongful dismissal compensation is lost wages, generally calculated as the difference between what you would have earned had you not been fired and what you have been able to earn with your alternative employment. So if you had a job as an engineer but were filed for blowing the whistle on unethical practices and subsequently could only find a job at a fast-food chain, this figure would likely be substantial. If you merely switched from one engineering firm to another, you would likely be eligible for much less compensation.
- Loss of Benefits
Salary or wage isn’t the only factor taken into account when it comes to expectation damages. You might be able to ask for compensation covering lost bonuses, commission, stock options, retirement, paid time off, tuition reimbursement or dependent care. You can also seek compensation for lost medical benefits, which can become a major expense particularly if health issues after losing your job cost you quite a bit.
- Work Search Expenses
Even if you have been wrongfully terminated, you are expected to search for other work in the meantime. You should keep track of those expenses, however, as they can be passed along to your former employer as part of your wrongful dismissal compensation. This might include costs for resume editing, printing, application fees and long-distance calls.
- Distress Damages
It is more difficult to substantiate claims of emotional distress, but it is sometimes possible that an award may include financial compensation for stress and psychological trauma incurred as a result of being fired. You should talk to your lawyer if you feel you should ask for these kinds of damages.
Do you have any other questions about wrongful dismissal compensation, or wrongful dismissal lawsuits in general? Ask or share your experience in the comments.