Can I file a legal suit against a previous employer for causing me economic hardship?

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Can I file a legal suit against a previous employer for causing me economic hardship?

My employer was negligent and allowed known stress-causing conditions to persist on the workplace without taking reasonable measures to prevent them. The employer tried to maintain their decision to terminate was based on poor performance; however, I was awarded economic benefits based on evidence provided to an impartial Unemployment Benefits Hearing Officer. The employer is now contesting the decision. I am now having to prepare for a subsequent hearing to again present evidence supporting my claim. Location, date and time have not been provided. What are my rights?

Asked on April 5, 2012 under Employment Labor Law, District of Columbia

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

No, there is no claim for "economic hardship"--the employer is not responsible for your overall economic situation--and there is no obligation on the part of an employer to avoid stress-causing conditions or take actions to avoid them--a workplace can legally be as stressful as an employer cares to make it.

The determination by the unemployment benefits hearing officer merely means that in the unemployment office's determination, you were not fired "for cause" (e.g. for violating company policy or disobeying employer instructions, excessive absenteeism or tardiness, criminal activity, etc.) and hence are eligible for unemployment compensation--it has no other legal effect. The employer is allowed to appeal or contest that determination if it believes you were fired for  cause, and even if they are incorrect, that does  not entitle you to reimbursement for your time or costs in refuting their challenge.


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