7 things employees get wrong about ‘wrongful termination’

A wrongful termination claim can be filed in a court of law if an employee believes he or she has been ‘illegally’ fired from the job. Such claims result from an alleged violation of federal or state anti-discrimination laws, employment contracts or labor laws, including whistle-blower laws.

A wrongful termination claim can also be filed when an employee believes the termination was due to sexual harassment or in retaliation to a complaint or workers’ compensation claim.

All of this seems pretty straightforward – wrongful always means unfair – right?

Not in the legal sense, no.

Employer Makes $1.3 Million FMLA Mistake by Firing Worker After Mexico Trip

A recent decision from the highest court in Massachusetts emphasizes the risk to employers of taking employment actions based on outrage rather than reason—particularly when it comes to decisions about leaves of absence.

In this case, an employee sued his former employer after he was fired for taking a vacation to Mexico while he was on a medical leave of absence, and the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court upheld a $1.3 million damage award. A jury had found the company liable for retaliatory termination in violation of the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), and a state law discrimination statute.

The jury awarded the employee $19,777 in back pay and $300,000 in front pay for lost future income and benefits. In addition, the jury also awarded the employee $200,000 for emotional distress and $715,385 in punitive damages. 

Former HR Director wins lawsuit against city, awarded more than $1 million in damages

Former City of Edmonds Human Resources Director Debi Humann was greeted by hugs and smiles from family outside the downtown Seattle federal courtroom Friday afternoon after a 10-person jury unanimously awarded her more than $1 million in her civil suit against the City of Edmonds and former Edmonds Mayor Mike Cooper.

“It’s been three long difficult years for my family, for me and for the law firm,” a tearful Humann said. “I’m just glad it’s over and I’m really hoping that this clears my name, which is what I wanted.”

Humann’s boyfriend of five years, Bob Uptagrafft, and her daughter Jen, were all smiles after the verdict, and gave Humann large hugs after she left the courtroom.

“Now we can get our lives back,” Uptagrafft said, adding that relationships between Humann and City of Edmonds employees had been frozen during the past three years since she was fired and legal actions were underway.

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