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How Can an At-Will Employee Prove Wrongful Termination?

In Georgia, as in many states, most workers are “at will” employees, which means they generally can be terminated without cause. However, terminations cannot be in violation of federal laws against workplace discrimination or of laws that protect employees from retaliation for asserting their rights. If you have been fired for reasons you believe are improper, you may be able to recover damages through a wrongful termination lawsuit.

A Georgia employer has the right to terminate an employee for most any reason or for no reason at all. However, there are some important exceptions. A wrongful termination might have occurred when an employee is let go in any of the following circumstances:

  • The action was related to their religion, national origin, disability, sex, age or race.
  • They met with a union representative or encouraged other employees to join a union.
  • They complained about unsafe, job-related working conditions.
  • They reported illegal activities going on in the workplace, including violations of wage and hour laws.
  • They asserted their legal rights regarding any aspect of their employment.

Proving that an employer terminated you for one of these illegal reasons or others is a challenge. Consulting an experienced Georgia employment lawyer can help you assess if you have a viable legal case.

Whether you have been fired or suspect that you will be, you should gather records of all events and interactions that might relate to your potential wrongful termination claim. That means doing the following:

  • Keep notes or a journal of work-related comments or events, including meetings with your supervisor or human resources representative. This can help you document the chain of events that led to your firing.
  • If you notice that other employees have been let go for possibly illegal reasons, such as age or disability, find out as much information as you can about those employees and their situations. This can corroborate your claim of there being illegal motives for your termination.
  • Retain copies of all emails, letters, memoranda or manuals regarding employment policies, as well as documents relating to your own job performance, such as reviews, commendations, warnings or reprimands. These should be kept offline, since your access to your company email may be blocked once you are terminated.
  • If you are terminated at a meeting, ask for a written explanation of the reasons. If the employer refuses, ask them to express the reasons aloud. Take notes, either at the meeting or as soon as possible afterward. This is useful for showing that these reasons were pretexts for dismissal on other grounds.

Taking these steps will help your attorney to evaluate whether a wrongful termination may have occurred and to assemble the evidence needed to make a persuasive case for recovering damages.

Attorney K.P. Reddy at The Reddy Law Firm, P.C. has extensive experience handling employment law matters for clients in Atlanta, Suwanee, Marietta, Gainesville and Johns Creek and across Georgia. Call 678-629-3246 or contact us online for a free initial consultation.

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