Wrongful termination is when an employer dismisses you from the workplace and does not have a good specific reason for firing you. In certain cases, employers may also breach the company’s formal disciplinary procedures. Wrongful dismissal from your job on unfair grounds is certainly unjust and breeds a lot of anger and anxiety, however, in many instances, it is possible to prove that an employer has violated your employment contract and employment law.
Check If You’ve Been Dismissed for a Fair Reason
Upon being initially dismissed from your place of work it is easy to let your emotions get the better of you as the dawning realisation hits of how unfair the circumstances are and what you need to begin the search for a new job. However, before you attempt to approach a trade union it is good to familiarise yourself with some of the reasons that you can be dismissed from the workplace. Some of these reasons include:
This will allow you to make a better judgement and assess if you have been unfairly dismissed from your job, which will also allow you to pursue the necessary channels to prove that the company executed a wrongful discharge.
Know Your Employment Contract and Workplace Rights
To successfully prove that you have been a victim of wrongful termination you will need to ensure that you are familiar with the employment law in the UK so that you can confidently argue your case.
It is also important to be certain of your employment status as your rights depend on if you are officially an employee or not. You will also need to know how long you have been working for your employer as you can usually only challenge an employer if you have been working for them for two years or more.
It is also vital that you are familiar with the small print of your specific contract of employment so that you know if the company have committed a breach of contract.
Refresh Your Knowledge of UK Anti-Discrimination Laws
It is an illegal act for an employer in the United Kingdom to dismiss an employee from the workplace for one of the following reasons:
All of these factors are called ‘protected characteristics’ and you are legally protected from discrimination by the Equality Act 2010. Therefore, it is deemed acceptable to take legal action if you have been discriminated due to one of these protected characteristics.
Discrimination can also mean if your particular needs have not been addressed in the workplace, which therefore has put you at a disadvantage when carrying out your work. Employers know that if you fall into any of these categories it cannot be the reason that you are dismissed. However, some employers may not be honest when giving the reason for your dismissal.
Check You’ve Been Dismissed for a Reason That’s Definitely Unfair
If you have worked for the company for at least two years, you are entitled to your employer telling you the specific reason that they are dismissing you and you also have the right to get a written explanation either in writing or via email.
Some of the examples of unfair dismissal are as follows:
Before challenging your dismissal from the workplace it can be a good idea to seek help from your nearest Citizens Advice or Citizens Advice Scotland as they will help give you legal advice.
Assess If You’ve Been a Victim of Constructive Discharge
Constructive dismissal is when you’re forced to leave your job against your own will because of your employer’s conduct. It can be one serious incident or a series of incidents that have accumulated over a certain period of time. It is important to leave your job when an employer seriously breaches your contract as if you stay in the job your employer could argue that you accepted the conduct or treatment.
Examples of reasons why constructive dismissal could occur include:
How to Solve a Dispute Without a Tribunal
The first step to resolving a workplace dispute is to go through the necessary grievance procedure and company policy that your organisation has. You should be able to find your company’s specific grievance procedure through your employee handbook or employment contract. Most companies’ grieving procedures involve writing a formal letter to your employer that addresses the specific details of your case which is followed up by a meeting with your employer to discuss the issue. If you are not satisfied with your employer’s response at the meeting you have the right to appeal your employer’s decision. It is important to not surpass this stage in the process of seeking justice on your workplace dispute as going through your companies grieving procedure will allow you to see if there has been a breach of contract claim.
There are three main ways that you can get help from a third party to solve disputes between you and your employer and these are through mediation, conciliation and arbitration.
Mediation occurs when an impartial third party attempts to help find a solution to the dispute that remained unsolved between you and your employer. For mediation to work, both you and your employer must be willing to agree that you want to solve the dispute. Mediation, however, is not an option when it comes to more serious disputes such as harassment or discrimination as these must be formally investigated.
As with mediation both parties, you and your employer must agree that you want to enrol in conciliation with the intention of solving the dispute. Conciliation is normally explored as an option when you have already submitted a claim to an employment tribunal or when you believe that you are entitled to make a claim to an employment tribunal. ACAS (Advisory Conciliation and Arbitration Service) provide both free and impartial information for both employers and employees on workplace grievances, relations and employment law. ACAS’s role as an organisation is to help both sides of the dispute reach a mutual solution without both parties having to go through the process of approaching a tribunal system.
Arbitration is the last step before exploring the option of seeking the help of a tribunal. It is when a third party makes a firm decision on the case after exploring all options and both sides. Both parties must agree with an arbitrators decision as it is legally binding.
How to File a Wrongful Termination Claim
If you are not able to settle a workplace dispute through the grievance procedure at your place of work the next step is to seek an employment tribunal. An employment tribunal is a system which is in place in the UK for occasions that you are unable to solve a problem between you and your employer. Employment tribunals act as a third party and is independent of the government, therefore, they are unbiased and will listen to you, the claimant, and then your employer before they assess the situation and draw a conclusion.
It is important to file a claim to a tribunal within three months of either of your employment ending or since the grievance took place. Within the United Kingdom, it is compulsory to inform the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service (ACAS) that you intend on making a claim to the tribunal. ACAS are responsible for giving you an early conciliation certificate which you need to have present when making your claim at the tribunal.
It is also possible to explore the possibility of having legal advice by a solicitor or employment lawyer so that you know your legal rights before making your claim to the tribunal. Legal representation will also strengthen your case as solicitors will have dealt with similar cases to yours. They will be able to advise on how strong your wrongful termination claim and if it is a wrongful termination case that needs to be investigated at a tribunal.
In certain cases you may be entitled to a workers compensation claim.