I may be terminated from my job. How can I protect myself?
Expert legal advice can help you navigate next steps if you think you are about to be wrongfully terminated or believe your employer is discriminating or retaliating against you. The attorneys at Halunen Law are available to consult with you on what your rights are and strategies to protect them.
What does “employment at-will” mean?
“Employment at-will” means that an employer can terminate an employee at any time for any reason or no reason—except an illegal one—without violating the law. Illegal reasons include, for example, terminating an employee because of gender, age, race, or disability, or for reporting unlawful conduct in the workplace. “Employment at-will” also means an employee is free to leave a job at any time for any or no reason without any adverse legal consequences.
If I file a lawsuit, how long will it take?
If you have to “litigate” your case (file a formal court complaint that describes what happened and your legal claims), the process typically takes between nine months to a year and a half from filing the formal complaint through trial. If your case is appealed, or there are other delays, it can take longer. Some cases settle early before a complaint is even filed.
What is the likelihood that my case will settle?
Every case is different and must be evaluated by your attorney based on the particular facts and circumstances of your situation. That said, about 95% of our cases are resolved before trial.
What damages will my employer have to pay if my case is successful?
The damages awarded to you depend on the claims filed and the harm you’ve experienced. Damages can include compensation for past and future wage loss (which is directly related to the money you made in your job), and the emotional pain and suffering caused by your employer. Halunen Law is ready to evaluate your potential claims, explain available damages, and discuss your options. We are experienced employment law attorneys and represent employees on a contingency basis.
What is sexual harassment?
Sexual harassment is a civil rights violation. And it’s a form of sex discrimination that happens to both men and women. It can range from verbal to physical—from unwelcome comments by a supervisor or co-worker about a person’s appearance to touching and rape. To be considered sexual harassment, the behavior has to be sexual in nature.
What should I do if I’m being sexually harassed at work?
Document and report—as many times as it takes to get action. Write down each instance of sexual harassment, including dates and times, exactly what happened, and who might have witnessed it. (But even if no one witnessed it, still document and report the harassment.) In some states, such as Minnesota, you can digitally record sexual harassment without the knowledge of the harasser as long as you make the recording and you are with the person harassing you during the recording process.
Report the harassment to your supervisor or Human Resources (HR), whichever your employer’s policy recommends. Make sure the report is in writing, and keep a copy of the report for your own records. Cooperate in any investigation your company initiates in response to your report. If the company does not respond in a way that resolves the situation, call us.
What is my employer required to do once I tell them I’m being sexually harassed at work?
An employer is required to take prompt and reasonable steps to investigate the allegations and put an end to the harassment. This could mean transferring you so that you no longer work with or report to the person harassing you; transferring the harasser to a different area; or terminating the harasser if the situation calls for that.
What if my employer retaliates against me for reporting sexual harassment?
It’s illegal for an employer to retaliate against an employee for reporting sexual harassment. What that means is that your employer can’t do anything that would discourage you from reporting harassment or do anything that would make your work life more difficult. Retaliation could include: firing you without good reason; denying you a promotion you otherwise would have received; cutting your pay or hours; or assigning you to work hours that you are unable to work. Perhaps your supervisor starts to write you up for infractions you didn’t commit or small infractions you may have committed that aren’t typically written up. Any of these things could be considered retaliation.
Is one instance of sexual harassment enough to file a sexual harassment lawsuit?
It depends on the severity of the sexual harassment. If the harassment is physical, one instance could be enough to file a lawsuit. In most other cases, one instance is not enough. It all depends on the circumstances—the pervasiveness of the harassment, whether you’ve brought the inappropriate conduct to the attention of your employer, and what the response was. Call us for a free consultation and we can help you sort out your options.
What if I’ve already quit my job because of sexual harassment? Can I still file a sexual harassment claim?
It can be more difficult to win a lawsuit if you’ve already quit—but it can be done, depending on the circumstances. How many times you’ve asked for help; whether or not the employer refused to resolve the situation; the type of conduct, and its emotional impact on you would be factors.
If you’ve been fired, to have a claim for retaliation you need to be able to challenge the reason given for your termination. It is best to have been fired by no fault of your own, but again—it depends on the circumstances.
Case in point:
Halunen Law filed a suit on behalf of a client who worked alone on a night shift with a co-worker who repeatedly came in drunk, grabbed the client, and pulled her onto his lap. The client reported the behavior to her supervisor 17 times, but failed to do so in writing. The client eventually began to record the interactions and took the documentation to HR. The supervisor denied the initial 17 reports she had made and began writing her up for performance fails. After 25 years of working for the company as an employee in good standing, she was terminated because of a “performance fail.” Halunen Law was able to successfully resolve the case for the client.
Halunen Law prides itself on assisting our clients who have been the victim of workplace sexual harassment and retaliation. Fairness. Honesty. Justice. It’s in our DNA. If you have a sexual harassment claim, Halunen Law will stand with you every step of the way. Contact us today.
If you would like to discuss your workplace concerns with the Halunen Law employment practice team please “Contact Us” or call us at 612-605-4098 for a free, initial consultation.
This information is not legal advice.