Employment with a company or agency seems like it should be a straightforward agreement. The individual works for the employer for a certain amount of pay, doing designated tasks that both agree upon. However, disputes can arise that lead to termination of the employee. In some cases, being let go can lead to a wrongful termination lawsuit.
Even though the law gives employers significant leeway, there are still some ways an employer can violate the law during termination. Wrongful termination in Arizona occurs when an employer fires you because of your sex, race, religion, and a handful of other categories. Simply put, employers are foreclosed from firing you because of your immutable characteristics, even in those states where right-to-work laws have taken hold.
What Is Wrongful Termination?
Most employment in the United States is “at-will”, that is, the employers can hire or fire individuals when they choose and for any reason. However, in some cases, the termination is illegal and violates state laws or national policy on employment. In addition, if there is a written employment contract, any violation of the contract could be grounds for a lawsuit.
In these cases, the employee can file suit stating the wrongdoing in detail. These cases are called “wrongful termination” suits, and they cover a variety of different circumstances. Each state has its own laws covering cases involving wrongful termination, and the criteria for filing a case can vary significantly from state to state.
What Constitutes Wrongful Termination in Arizona
The state of Arizona has specific limitations on when and why a lawsuit for wrongful termination can be filed. For example, the suit must be filed within one year of the termination date. When the following conditions apply, you may have grounds for a suit against your employer for wrongful termination:
- Discrimination – Both state and federal laws prohibit discrimination on the basis of age, sex, race, religion, disability and national origin. If you believe any of these were a factor in your termination, you must be ready to prove the employer fired you for factors other than poor performance or poor attendance.
- Medical condition – An employer cannot terminate your employment simply because you developed a medical condition.
- Performance of legal rights or public policy issues – Employers cannot terminate you if you choose to form a union or report a safety violation. They cannot terminate if you are required to perform jury duty or other public service.
- Contract rights and policy issues – Employers cannot violate requirements of an employment contract nor any policy stated in an employee manual or handbook.
How do You File a Lawsuit for Wrongful Termination
As a plaintiff, you are required to take a number of actions to provide information in order to file suit. The human resources department of your employer can supply a number of documents you need. To file a case, you must follow these basic steps:
- Formally request a reason for termination from the company’s human resources department.
- Compose a grievance letter disputing the reasons for the termination.
- Put together a file of pertinent documents regarding your employment, including employment contracts, union contracts, employee manuals, personnel files with employee evaluations and any other correspondence you have received regarding your employment. Your file should also contain pay stubs and your financial records detailing how the termination affected your finances.
- Make a list of co-workers who can be called as witnesses to the employment circumstances.
- Document all emails, letters, phone calls or other correspondence with the company.
- Talk to other employees who have been terminated from the company, if possible.
- Contact an attorney who is experienced in wrongful termination cases in the state of Arizona.
How to Write a Dispute Letter for Wrongful Termination
Your grievance letter disputing termination should contain your full name and address, the company’s name and address and should specifically explain the reason you believe you were wrongfully terminated. The reason should be based on facts, such as violation of policies in an employee manual. In the letter, you should request a hearing to discuss the matter. When the hearing occurs, you should keep careful records of what occurred during the meeting.
Call our Employment Law team at (480) 464-1111 to discuss your case today.