A wrongful termination claim involves allegations that an employer fired a worker for reasons that violate the employment agreement and/or the law. Employees who have been wrongfully terminated may be legally entitled to benefits. For instance, your employment can be restored, and you may be entitled to diverse compensation, such as back pay, legal fees, and other expenses incurred as a result of the termination.
Unfortunately, these claims can be quite challenging to prove, even when you have substantial evidence to bolster your position, such as a witness statement from an executive who overheard a discussion about your firing that suggested an illegal motivation or emails or text messages to that end.
Employers, however, face their own risks when confronted with this kind of legal action. Negative publicity and the cost and time of having to deal with litigation all increase the likelihood of a settlement.
Crunching the Numbers
The courts look at numerous factors when assessing a wrongful termination action, including:
- Wage Loss. This is a straightforward calculation, usually. It refers to the amount the employee lost from the date of termination through the present day. Interim income from another job, unemployment benefits, and other sources can be deducted from the total lost wages owed. If the plaintiff proves difficulty securing new employment, he or she may also be entitled to future wage loss. (If you cannot return to your old job, you may face weeks or several months out of work.)
- Lost Benefits. If a wrongfully terminated employee is forced to purchase his or her own health insurance and/or cover medical expenses, the employer can be held liable for compensating these costs. If the worker developed a serious illness or needed to visit the hospital for a procedure and thus incurred substantial out of pocket expenses, the lost benefits can be significant.
- Emotional Distress. It's difficult to quantify emotional distress for the purpose of compensation. Did the firing occur in a particularly hostile way? Did the employer retaliate against you for illegally filing a previous discrimination or harassment claim? Did you need to get therapy afterwards to deal with depression or stress – direct fall out from what happened at the office? The court should try to identify the emotional cost of the experience and get you fairly compensated.
Current Climate for Wrongful Termination Settlements
According to a report from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), 88,778 discrimination charges were filed in the fiscal year 2014, representing an almost six percent drop from the previous year. Monetary relief from cases litigated, as well as settlements, totaled $22.5 million over the same period. Payroll and outsourcing company XCELHR reported the following statistics:
- 67% of employment cases result in a judgment for the plaintiff when taken to litigation.
- The average cost of an out-of-court settlement for employment-related cases is $40,000.
- The average defense cost (through trial) for an employment-related lawsuit is $45,000.
- The median compensatory award for employment practices liability insurance cases is $218,000.
Preparing a Wrongful Termination Settlement with an Attorney
Contact an employment attorney from the Law Office of Brian I. Vogel. We would be happy to sit down with you to discuss your case and advise you. You can be confident we will do everything possible to help you get your settlement resolved.