What Damages Is A Wrongfully Terminated Person Entitled To?
The biggest part of financial compensation that a wrongfully terminated employee is entitled to — lost wages. There are some more technical legal terms that the lawyers and judges use when you get into an actual case (terms like “back pay” and “front pay”), but in essence, what all those amount to are lost wages — the amount of money you lost from being unemployed that you would not have lost if you hadn’t been wrongfully terminated.
In certain circumstances, the employee may also get Compensatory Damages, which are intended to compensate the employee for his emotional pain and suffering. If the bad behavior on the part of the employer is especially egregious, the employer may also be required to pay punitive damages.
If you are looking at whether or not it makes sense to pursue a wrongful termination claim, it is important to understand that if you are able to get a new job very quickly after having been terminated, it will significantly reduce the amount of damages that are available. There is not going to be a very high amount of lost wages. In addition, a short period of unemployment will generally be considered less emotionally distressing than a long period of unemployment, which means the compensatory damages might also be affected by how long the fired employee remains unemployed. However, the fired employee should understand that they will almost always be financially better off by getting back to work as soon as possible. It is true that doing so might weaken her legal claim, but it is better to lose out on the legal claim if doing so means having a regular paycheck coming in.
All these factors should be considered and certainly can be discussed with me or with any attorney as you are trying to figure out whether it makes sense to pursue a wrongful termination claim.
Can I Look For Another Job While My Wrongful Termination Case Is Pending?
You should look for another job and you can look for another job while your wrongful termination case is pending. The sad reality of our civil justice system is that you will almost certainly never get as much from a wrongful termination claim as you would have had if you had just kept working. It is always going to be in your financial best interest to stay at work, if you can, or get back to work or find a new job as soon as possible after being fired. Your financial interest will be best served by working. In fact, the law will require you to look for another job. One of the things that an employee is entitled to in a wrongful termination claim is their lost wages. One of the defenses that an employer can raise to a claim for lost wages is that the employee did not mitigate their damages. “Mitigating damages” is a legal term that basically means you did not try to minimize the financial harm caused by your termination. If you get fired and you sit around for a year before looking for another job, then the employer will have a reasonable claim that they should not be liable for that entire year worth of lost wages because you were not even trying to find a new job. When it comes time for the court to figure out how much money you are entitled to as a result of having been wrongfully terminated, it is your legal responsibility to show that you were actively searching for a new job. Not only it is a requirement for pursuing a lost wages claim, but as a practical matter, you will want to have money coming in so that your actual financial harm from having been fired and having a period of unemployment will be as small as possible. It might make it so that your wrongful termination claim is not worth pursuing but ultimately you are going to be better off working and getting a new job as soon as you can.