Variously referred to as wrongful dismissal, wrongful termination and unfair dismissal, wrongful dismissal cases deal with the illegal firing of employees. If you believe that your employer fired you because of your inclusion in a protected group, for example, or because you blew the whistle on illegal practices, then you may be eligible to file an unfair dismissal claim. Employee lawsuits in general have increased by around 400% in the past 20 years, and wrongful termination lawsuits have gone up by around 260% over that same period of time.
Can you win your case? It’s impossible to know until you try, although qualified wrongful termination lawyers can help you assess the strength of your claim. Among employee lawsuits that actually go to trial in state courts in the U.S., about 67% are won by the employee. But before you get started with a legal process, you’ll want to educate yourself on the reasons for filing such a lawsuit — including the wrongful dismissal compensation you may be eligible for. These damages, as monetary compensation is called, generally fall into five categories:
- Lost Pay
The biggest aspect of wrongful dismissal compensation is generally based on how much you would have earned had your employer not improperly fired you. Keep in mind that this figure will be adjusted if you have earned any money since your firing (and you are expected to look for equivalent employment in order to have a strong case). So if you were able to find a new job but it pays $1,000 less per month than your old job, you could ask for $1,000 per month for the period since you were let go.
- Lost Benefits
You may also be able to recover the value of benefits included in your previous job’s compensation package. That means you’ll need to quantify the value of things like medical and dental insurance, a 401K, or stock options.
- Emotional Distress
In some cases, you may be able to receive damages for emotional distress, commonly known as “pain and suffering.” But you should know that this tends to happen only in extreme cases where the employer in question has acted particularly unreasonably.
- Punitive Damages
Some states allow a judge or jury to impose punitive damages on a defendant. Unlike the above categories, these damages aren’t intended to compensate you. Instead, they’re meant to punish the defendant and deter other people or companies from acting similarly in the future.
- Legal Fees
In a few types of employment cases, you may be able to ask that the defendant cover your legal expenses. This may change based on your fee arrangement with your attorney.
Do you have any other questions about wrongful dismissal compensation? Join the discussion in the comments.