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What to do when wrongful termination happens to you

Getting fired is disheartening, frightening and often humiliating. It can also be grossly unfair and possibly illegal, depending on the circumstances.

How do you know whether you're a victim of a wrongful termination? Even if you were let go along with others due to a corporate merger or cutbacks, it's possible that there could be some type of discrimination behind your particular termination.

Here are some questions you can ask yourself:

1. What makes you suspect that you were fired due to discrimination?

When your company let several people go, did all of the people fired seem to be older? It isn't uncommon for companies to mask age discrimination through "restructuring" and job eliminations to make room for younger employees who will work for less.

If you were the only person fired, were you given a reason that simply doesn't make sense? For example, you've always been regarded as a good employee -- right up until the point that your boss found out you were pregnant. Suddenly, the promotion promised you was given to someone else, and you found yourself shuffled out the door after a sudden negative performance review.

2. What other evidence do you have that you were fired illegally?

Maybe in your exit interview, your boss let you know that he never thought that you "fit" with the company because of your race or religion. Perhaps you recently made a report about a safety violation, and your boss made some remark to let you know that it wasn't appreciated before letting you go.

3. Do you have an employment contract that protects you?

If you're fired in violation of your employment contract or the employee handbook, that may also be illegal. In many cases, employers forget that they have to follow certain rules before they can simply terminate your position.

The reality is that it can be very difficult to tell if your firing was illegal or not. An experienced attorney is a good source of guidance and information.

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