Companies have the legal right to terminate their workers for a broad range of reasons. Although the civil courts in Hawaii will expect employers to uphold contractual obligations to their workers, such as promised severance pay, a worker upset about an unexpected job loss doesn’t necessarily have grounds for a wrongful termination claim.
Typically, to hold an employer accountable for a recent termination that you think violated your rights, you will have to prove that the company broke state or federal employment laws when they chose to let you go. Wrongful termination claims often involve one or both of the two issues mentioned below.
Did your employer decide to let you go from your job the week after you filed a racial discrimination claim with human resources? Did the timing of your termination coincide with a request for leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA)?
Often, the biggest warning sign of employer misconduct is their decision to take punitive actions against a worker shortly after that employee engaged in protected activities, like filing a workers’ compensation claim or reporting mistreatment on the job.
Uneven rule enforcement
Some companies are quite careful to hide the signs of their misconduct by delaying when they take action. They might even create a paper trail of multiple write-ups to justify your termination.
If the company seems to enforce rules against you that it doesn’t enforce against anyone else, that could be a warning sign of discrimination. So too could the sudden enforcement of rules that the company never applied against you in the past.
Identifying warning signs of potential workplace discrimination or wrongful termination can help you protect your career and your financial stability.