What is the timeframe to file a lawsuit against a company for unfair termination?

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What is the timeframe to file a lawsuit against a company for unfair termination?

I was fired for something that someone else did while I was a manager at this company. They claimed I was negligent but I didn’t have anything to do with what he did. They said I should have fired him, so that is why they fired me. Doesn’t make sense to me though. I didn’t break any rules or commit any act that would be considered negligent.

Asked on October 24, 2011 under Employment Labor Law, Tennessee

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

From what you write, there is a good chance that the conduct you describe is not illegal or wrongful termination; that is, it may be unfair, but the law does not require employers to be fair.

If you have an employment contract, and that contract specifies how or why you could be terminated, you may only be terminated in accordance with its terms; if you were fired other than as your contract (if you have one) says, you may have a cause of action.

If you were fired because of your race, religion, age over 40, sex, or disabilty, you may have a discrimination claim--though the firing must be for one of those reasons. (E.g. you can be a 50 year old, disabled, African American woman and be legally fired for bad performance, for absenteeism, for insubordination, for theft, or as part of a downsizing--just not because you are a 50 year old disabled African American woman.)

If you tried to use a protected benefit, like taking FMLA leave, or brought a protected complaint, such as about discrimination or for overtime, you can't be fired in retaliation.

Apart from the above, though, you can be fired essentially at any time, for any reason, even unfair ones--like not firing a subordinate for a minor problem when your employer thinks you should have. From what you write, your termination was likely not wrongful in a legal sense.

If you want to discuss the matter with an employment attorney to be sure, do so quickly--some of the grounds to take legal action for being fired, like having been discriminated against, have short time frames to act.


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