Many people have no interest in returning to a job from which they were wrongfully terminated. However, there are definitely cases where you may want to go back to work. A wrongful termination lawyer can help you understand the options as they pertain specifically to your circumstances, but there is some general information that’s worth knowing.
Ask a Wrongful Termination Lawyer: Can I Get My Job Back?
In short, yes: it’s often possible to get your job back. However, you should consider carefully whether this is a step you want to take. Qualified wrongful termination attorneys in Kansas City can help you understand what’s best for your situation.
Most of us think primarily about the monetary compensation involved in a wrongful termination lawsuit, but such a lawsuit can offer other remedies, including possible reinstatement orders. There are some situations where reinstatement may not be possible; however, there are lots of situations where reinstatement is possible and even required.
For example, if you were fired for taking time off for jury duty, you have the right in Missouri to bring a civil action within 90 days. The civil action would result in reinstatement as well as the recovery of lost wages and cover of your attorney fees. Additionally, under federal law, if a wrongful termination violates the Family and Medical Leave Act, reinstatement is required. This applies to all government and public jobs and to any company with more than 50 employees.
Do You Want Your Job Back?
In many cases, the question is not whether you can get your job back but whether you want your job back. The court may order reinstatement of your job, but if you feel that the workplace will be too uncomfortable, you can deny the return.
For example, if you were unlawfully fired because you complained about sexual harassment, you may not want to spend a minute more in that workplace, even if a judge orders the company to give you back your job. In most cases, if the court orders reinstatement as one of the remedies in your lawsuit, it will be your choice whether you want the job back or not.
If you were wrongfully terminated but the law does not specifically require reinstatement as a remedy, the courts will often tend not to order reinstatement. They take this position because reinstatement often doesn’t work well. Employers become bitter over being forced to rehire someone under such circumstances, and even workers who previously loved their jobs may find that the environment has changed so much that they no longer enjoy it. Courts tend to award other benefits instead if they can.
How to Get Your Job Back
If you want to get your job back, the way to do it is to initiate legal action. If you and your lawyer can prove that your termination was illegal, you have a very good chance that the court may reinstate you and order that you be compensated for lost wages and possibly other damages. Here are the steps you should take:
Talk to a Lawyer to See If You Have a Case
You can only file a wrongful termination lawsuit if you were fired for an illegal reason. Missouri is an at-will state, which means that employers may fire an employee for any lawful reason so long as there is no contract in place guaranteeing employment for a certain period of time. There are several unlawful reasons for termination, including:
- Retaliation against an employee for filing a worker’s compensation claim or reporting illegal activity
- Retaliation against an employee for refusing to break the law or exercising a legal right
- Discrimination against an employee due to age, sexual orientation, gender, race, or national origin
- Retaliation against an employee for engaging in union-related activity
Your lawyer may advise that you begin a lawsuit immediately, but in some cases, your lawyer may advise you to simply ask for your job back. In some cases, once an employer discovers that a former employee has acquired a lawyer, they may simply back down and reinstate you on their own. This could be the simplest solution, particularly if they are willing to compensate you for missed time at work.
If this doesn’t work, or if your lawyer thinks it’s so unlikely to work that it’s not really worth trying, then talk with your lawyer about how much you can recover in compensation. You can recover lost wages and benefits, any back pay you are owed, your attorney’s fees, and often compensation for emotional distress and suffering. In rare cases, the court may order punitive damages, but this is rare and requires particularly egregious behavior on the part of your employer.
You can often get your job back after wrongful termination, but you should also take time to talk to a lawyer about whether that’s the best option for your case.