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

UPDATED: Apr 5, 2012

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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


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 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.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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