Being fired never feels good. While you may have had some hints indicating your job might be in danger, it still never feels good when you suddenly have to pack up your cubicle and take a walk of shame.

Getting fired almost always feels wrong. You may spend hours analyzing your memories, looking for the incidents that may have resulted in this outcome. In doing this, you might feel like you’ve done nothing wrong and didn’t deserve to be fired.

How do you know whether you were fired illegally? What are the grounds for wrongful termination, and what can be done after that? Read on if you need help.

Wrongful versus illegal

Wrongful termination and illegal termination can both be opportunities for you to bring a lawsuit against your employer. However, there is a difference between wrongful and illegal termination.

Illegal termination is when there is a violation of the law. This usually relates to being fired in the act of discrimination. If you are fired because of your race, gender, age, or sexual orientation, you may have grounds to sue your employer. However, this will be dependent on your state’s laws, so be sure that the state’s laws protect you.

Wrongful termination is not necessarily illegal, but you can bring a lawsuit against the employer if your firing was in breach of your contract. Wrongful and illegal termination occurs when you are fired in violation of a collective bargaining agreement. 

If you are a union member, you are protected by this agreement, and if your firing is in violation of this agreement, you may have a case.

If you feel that you have been illegally or wrongfully terminated, get to provide you with a lawyer in the field, to ensure your rights are protected.

A violation of written or implied promises

Having a contract that promises your job security can offer you a safety net when it comes to being fired. This means you cannot be fired at-will – a method of being fired for no reason that is legal in 49 states. Your boss cannot fire you for no reason. Instead, there has to be a good cause, with reasons which are stated in the contract.

If there is a similar verbal agreement between you and an employer, and it can be proven, you have grounds once again to be protected from being fired at-will. This includes assurances that you will have continuing employment, promises of long-term employment, and whether you have been given the appropriate required warnings before being fired.

You can also have a case if you have been fired in an attempt to prevent you from collecting sales commissions, to be replaced by someone willing to work for lower wages, or if you were being coerced into quitting through various methods. Some states do not accept these reasons if you are an at-will employee, so it is essential to check your contract before pursuing your case.

Fired for complaining

Sometimes we get frustrated at work, and we tend to vent. Venting to the wrong people could result in your boss or employer hearing about your frustrations.

In the current fragile economy, people often fear to complain in case they get fired. However, if you have been mistreated or discriminated against, you are fully within your rights to complain without recourse. Complaining to HR or another senior in the business should not strike fear into your heart.

You have the right to be heard and apologized to, and for the company to take action to ensure it doesn’t happen again. If you get fired after complaining about mistreatment, you can bring a case against the employer for illegal termination.