I have a contract with 18 months remaining and was terminated with "cause" yet the unemployment office found I was let go without cause.
I moved across country for this job and have two infant children. I am told that as I am a white male I can't file for wrongful termination.
Employment / Labor Attorney
It is likely that there will be more facts than can be explored in this forum. You should seek specific advice from an attorney who handles wrongful termination cases. Depending on the specific facts, the employer may have violated your contract of employment by terminating you. Contract claims, like the one suggested here, are very fact specific and must be explored in detail. There may also be other reasons for the termintation that violate the law. Wrongful termination is not limited to race or gender.
Information is provided to assist the reader in forming questions and allow them to take full advantage of a consultation with the attorney of their choice. Schuck Law, LLC does not provide legal advice to individuals who have not signed a written fee agreement with the firm. The facts, which were not disclosed in the written question may change the advice, if any, that would be rendered by the attorneys at Schuck Law, LLC. For these and other reasons, Schuck Law, LLC is not responsible for any damages caused by the reader's use, mis-use, or interpretation of the information provided herein.
Employment / Labor Attorney
I am a California attorney and not eligible to give legal advice in your state. My comments are for information only, based on federal law and general legal principles. YOUR STATE MAY HAVE ITS OWN LAWS THAT PROVIDE SIMILAR OR GREATER PROTECTION. If I refer to your state's laws, that only means I did a quick Internet search and found something that appeared relevant. You should not rely on any comment I make regarding your state's law. You MUST check with an attorney licensed in your state.
I agree with attorney Schuck. An analysis of your situation will turn on specific facts. The Avvo board is not really set up to handle the kind of detailed analysis that is needed in your situation. Avvo works best for short, specific questions that allow for short, specific answers. Perhaps more importantly, anyone can read the discussions on Avvo so they are not confidential. Your employer or whomever you are in a dispute with can read everything written here.
Please look at my Avvo guide to at-will employment which may help you understand your rights now and in the future: http://www.avvo.com/legal-guides/ugc/an-overview-of-at-will-employment-all-states.
One this to discuss with an attorney is whether you may have a claim for promissory estoppel, which is recognized by most states. This doctrine allows a court to enforce a promise on the interest of justice if all of the following elements are present:
-- one party makes a gratuitous promise to another (that is, a promise it was not required to make); AND
-- a second party changes its position, circumstances or actions in reliance on that promise; AND
-- that reliance was reasonable; AND
-- the second party was harmed due to its changed position, circumstances or actions.
Note this in this case, the court is enforcing a promise, not enforcing a contract. This is because one element of a contract is that all parties give up or offer to the other something the party is not already required to provide. In the promissory estoppel situation, the promise was gratuitous, so it did not form the basis of a contract.
And as mentioned, you may have a contract claim.
Employment law is complicated and fact specific. You may wish to consult with an experienced plaintiffs employment attorney in your state. To find a plaintiffs employment attorney in your area, please go to the web site of the National Employment Lawyers Association (NELA). NELA is the largest and most influential bar association in the country for attorneys who represent working people. The web site is www.nela.org, and you can search for attorneys by location and practice area.
Also, NELA has affiliates in every state and in many cities. On the NELA web site, you can look at the list of affiliates. Some attorneys will be listed in the affiliate membership list, some in the national organization membership list, and some in both. Being listed in one or both lists should not influence your selection because attorneys can choose whether or not to purchase the listing in the national directory. Each local affiliate has its own rules for listing.
I hope you can resolve your situation and wish you the best.
*** All legal actions have time limits, called statutes of limitation. If you miss the deadline for filing your claim, you will lose the opportunity to pursue your case. Please consult with an experienced employment attorney as soon as possible to better preserve your rights. *** Marilynn Mika Spencer provides information on Avvo as a service to the public, primarily when general information may be of assistance. Avvo is not an appropriate forum for an in-depth response or a detailed analysis. These comments are for information only and should not be considered legal advice. Legal advice must pertain to specific, detailed facts. No attorney-client relationship is created based on this information exchange. *** Marilynn Mika Spencer is licensed to practice law before all state and federal courts in California, and can appear before administrative agencies throughout the country. She is eligible to represent clients in other states on a pro hac vice basis. ***
Contracts / Agreements Lawyer
Since the Oregon Employment Department made some findings, did you get a favorable decision from them on your unemployment claim? If not, there are specific deadlines to follow in order to appeal that decision. It would help if you could give us more information on this, as sometimes these Employment Department records provide good documentation to use in a subsequent wrongful termination lawsuit.
If you had a contract, it may contain provisions about the grounds upon which the employer can terminate your employment. Did you have a written agreement? These contracts can be verbal or written or even implied as mentioned in one of the other answers. Express employment agreements usually don't allow termination unless the employee "breached" the agreement. The Employment Department finding that you were let go without cause is interesting but that department seems inclined to favor employees in these situations. If you have gone through the appeals process and they still made that finding it has greater weight.
Obviously there is a lot more to this story and to pursue a wrongful discharge claim means you need to actually interview some lawyers and hire one. They work on contingency fees in this area of law and a consultation should be free. Good luck.
While the determination made by the Employment department may be that you were let go without cause, therefore allowing your benefits, that does not mean that there was not a violation of the contract. The standard under the OAR and ORS that allow for unemployment benefits are not always, although can be, the same for a wrongful termination action. If your employer breached the contract, and terminated you in violation of the contract, your claim would be for Breach of Employment Contract. Unless the contract states that your employment is not for a set term, but that employment is "at will", you may have a breach of contract claim, as long as you did not violate one of the reasons that your employer list would be 'For Cause'. However, if your violated the contract, but it was for a matter that the Statutes do not consider "misconduct" for unemployment reason, you would receive your benefits but that does not necessarily give rise to a viable legal action.
You can be a white male and be "wrongfully terminated" if the reason was in violation of another legally protected class, ie. you had to take off work because your infant was sick or because you requested a reasonable accommodation for a disability, etc.
You should schedule a consult with an attorney who can ask you more details and review your contract in order to get the best advice.
This advice is general and based on what you mentioned in your question, not necessarily facts, and therefore you should not rely on it without scheduling a consult with an attorney so that he/she they can inquire further as to the details and review all pertinent information prior to you making any decisions.