Wrongful Termination Lawyers in Boston
Serving Clients Throughout Massachusetts
Every day, countless employees across the country are fired for illegal reasons.
Companies and mangers often believe because employment is typically “at will” that they have an unfettered right to terminate employees for any reason. They are wrong.
As wrongful termination lawyers, we represent and hold accountable employers when they break the law, and seek full compensation for our clients.
What is Wrongful Termination?
In Massachusetts, and in other states, an employer can fire an employee for almost any reason, or for no reason, except for a reason that is protected under the law. In Massachusetts, employees cannot be fired because of:
- Their race or color
- Their national origin or ancestry
- A physical or mental disability
- Religious beliefs
- Their age, if they are age 40 or older
- Their gender
- Their sexual orientation
- Their gender identity
- The fact that they are pregnant, or may become pregnant
- Reporting of an illegal activity (often referred to as “whistleblowing”)
- The filing of a worker’s compensation claim against the employer
- Retaliation for engaging in other legally-protected behaviors, such as seeking leave under the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA)
If an employee is fired for one of these reasons, a “wrongful termination” may have occurred.
Does the Number of Workers Employed by the Employer Matter?
The protections provided under Massachusetts and Federal law come into play at various employee levels (for claims of wrongful termination based on discrimination, a company in Massachusetts needs to have at least 6 employees). As a result, when considering whether you have been the subject of a wrongful termination, we will need to learn about the number of employees at your company to determine what protections will apply. For other wrongful termination claims, the number of employees at your company does not matter.
How Can We Help?
If you are still employed, there are a number of ways in which we can help, depending upon your situation and objectives. Our assistance can range from writing demand letters instructing employers to cease and desist to more aggressive action that can involve filing an EEOC claim and litigation. If you have been subjected to illegal treatment, we can discuss these options with you.
Should I File an EEOC Complaint Against My Employer? Is an EEOC Complaint Required Before Suing?
Depending upon whether state or federal laws are implicated, a federal EEOC complaint or a complaint with the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination may be required. It is always best that an experienced employment lawyer be consulted prior to and in connection with such filing, as a properly-made filing can save significant time.
Can I be Fired if I was Late to Work? Is this Wrongful Termination?
Yes, you can be fired if you’re late to work, and such firing will not be deemed a wrongful termination. You can also be fired if you miss a project deadline. You can be fired if your boss simply decides that she doesn’t like you, or for absolutely no reason at all.
Unless you are part of a collective bargaining unit (i.e. a union), there are virtually an unlimited number of reasons that you can be fired. Even if you’re part of a collective bargaining unit your protections against termination may not be that much better.
My Boss Wasn’t Being Fair – Can I Still Be Fired?
Yes. Bosses don’t have to be fair. In fact, they don’t even have to be nice.
Maybe you were late to work for a legitimate reason, such as the bus broke down.. You can still be fired.
Remember, “wrongful” does not mean “unfair”.
Can I Be Fired for Something I Didn’t Do?
For example, suppose you were accused of stealing company products, but in fact you are innocent. However, a co-worker reported seeing you steal, and your boss believed the co-worker and fired you. Unless the firing was a “pretext” for another wrongful reason, your boss has the right to fire you. Your boss does not have to prove that he was correct in is belief, as long as his belief is not being used to conceal an unlawful reason.
What is a Pretextual Reason for Firing?
A “pretext” is another way of saying false, or not true. So a “pretextual” reason for firing is the stated, but not the real or primary reason for the firing.
As an example, an employer may tell a pregnant woman that she was fired for the stated reason of being late to work, but the true reason is that her boss doesn’t want her to miss work for her maternity leave. The fact that her boss gave a superficially legitimate reason – being late to work – does not matter.
Employers often know that they can’t fire a woman because she is pregnant, a man over age 40 because he is “too old,” or another worker because of her race or religious beliefs. Instead of announcing the “true” reason for the firing, the employer will make up an excuse for the firing. They may say that the employee’s work quality declined. They may also say the termination was based upon another factor, like the “inability of the employee to get along with other workers.”
Proving a Wrongful Termination Case – What Was the Real Reason You Were Fired?
In representing a client in a wrongful termination case, we do everything possible to get to the truth and uncover the real reasons that a worker was fired. We depose (take testimony under oath) managers to find out why the termination occurred. We can interview other employees to find out what they know or heard about the termination, including whether they are aware of discussions about the reason for the termination.
We will also want to learn about the general work environment to see if there were biases against employees with certain characteristics, and whether managers commonly made derogatory comments about certain classes of workers. We can even subpoena electronic documents (like email) that can show discussions between managers about an employee termination.
When wrongful terminations have taken place, often there is evidence about the true reason for the termination, even if initially the managers and bosses won’t tell the truth.