Terminations often aren't a complete surprise. Most employees receive hints over a series of days or weeks that their employer is considering letting them go. These hints may take the form of a poor performance review, a disciplinary action, a confrontation or a combination of these and other events.
Employees who fear they may be terminated may want to start gathering evidence immediately since they may not have an opportunity to once the termination happens. This evidence may help with the drafting of a wrongful termination grievance letter and help support a potential lawsuit against the former employer.
State and federal laws prevent employers from firing workers for discriminatory reasons. Accordingly, someone who believes they were terminated based on their age, sex, religion, pregnancy, race or other protected characteristic may certainly have grounds for alleging wrongful termination. However, there are other circumstances under which a termination may be considered wrongful.
Examples include employees who are terminated contrary to the terms of their employment contract or a worker who is dismissed after blowing the whistle on unsafe conditions. Those who are fired for taking time away from work to complete military service or who refused to comply with a supervisor's request to perform an illegal activity may also have grounds for writing a wrongful termination letter.
When things begin to seem rocky at the office and the employee suspects they may be wrongfully terminated it's time to start collecting evidence. The employee should have legal access to each piece of evidence collected. Essentially, if company policy or a law prohibits the employee from removing certain items from the premises of the workplace, then it's best to leave them alone. However, workers typically have a right to keep copies of performance reviews, employment contracts, reprimands, commendations and perhaps even a copy of office policies. Any of these documents can be very valuable as supporting evidence for the grievance letter.
Review the Organization's Termination Dispute Procedure
Employees who suspect that they may be terminated should make time to review the organization's termination dispute procedure. These guidelines are usually clearly spelled out in the employee handbook. It's important for the employee to strictly follow the termination dispute procedure. Failure to comply with any portion of it may give the company legal grounds to dismiss a dispute or avoid a lawsuit.
After being terminated, drafting the grievance letter is usually the first step. People who are members of unions have the opportunity to turn to their union representative for assistance. The union representative may have experience with drafting grievance letters and may be able to ease the process for the fired employee.
Workers who are not part of a union typically have to draft their own letter. While this is an undoubtedly emotional situation it's best to leave emotions out of a wrongful termination letter. Stick to a recitation of facts that includes as much detail as possible. Dates, times, names and locations may all be crucial to building a successful wrongful termination case.
Below is an example of a basic grievance letter.
Sample 1 - Grievance Letter
Dear (Name of Person Who Signed Termination Paperwork):
This letter raises a formal grievance concerning the termination of my employment on DATE.
The terms of my employment agreement, a copy of which is enclosed, detail that I must receive three warnings of infractions before being terminated. In the case at hand, I was dismissed without receiving any warnings.
On DATE, I was sitting at my desk at the company's main office at ADDRESS. I was working on the monthly productivity reports when my supervisor, NAME, stopped by my desk. NAME informed me that I was needed at a meeting in the conference room. When I entered the conference room, I was confronted by NAME and NAME who informed me that I was no longer employed with EMPLOYER.
For the past LENGTH OF EMPLOYMENT I have been employed by EMPLOYER. In that time I have never received a negative performance evaluation, nor am I aware of any dispute in which I could have been involved. I am enclosing a copy of my most recent performance evaluation, which contains nothing but positive feedback.
The reasons for my termination remain unknown to me. As stated in the enclosed employment agreement I am entitled to know the reason behind my termination. Moreover, the agreement promises a hearing involving my supervisors and other representatives from EMPLOYER.
I respectfully request that this hearing take place as soon as possible. I will expect a reply to this letter within the next 30 days. Should I not receive a suitable reply, I will be forced to consider other legal remedies that may be at my disposal.
By Andre Bradley