Last week, an ex-manager of a Chipotle Mexican Grill was awarded close to $8 million in a wrongful termination lawsuit against the restaurant chain. Jeanette Ortiz was accused of stealing more than $600 from a Fresno, California Chipotle in 2015. The alleged theft, which Ortiz’s supervisors claimed was videotaped, was never shown to Ortiz. Her supervisors said the video had been destroyed.
Following her termination, Ortiz filed a lawsuit. Last week, a California jury ruled that the former manager’s termination was in retaliation for a workers’ comp claim she had filed for a work-related injury. Ortiz claims to have suffered carpal tunnel syndrome while working at Chipotle. The Mexican fast-food restaurant was ordered to pay $7.97 million in damages, which includes $1.97 million in lost wages, and $6 million for emotional distress.
How Do You Know if Your Termination Was Legal?
If you’ve recently been fired from a job, and you think your termination was illegal, you may be entitled to compensation. But how do you know if the termination was legal or wrongful? The reality is, most employment is considered to be “at will,” which basically means that any employee can be fired at any time for any reason. That sounds like a blanket statement, but there is one major exception. If the reason itself is illegal, the termination is likely wrongful. An example of an illegal reason for termination would be if an individual is fired because of his race or religion. Such a discriminatory act is prohibited, and thus, would constitute a wrongful termination.
To win a wrongful termination case, however, one must be able to prove that the reason for termination was illegal, or that the termination itself was illegal because it goes against a written or implied promise of employment. For example, if you have a written contract promising job security for one year, and you are fired after six months, you can argue that your employment was not “at-will.” Even an implied promise can suffice, but these are much more difficult to prove. A Boston employment law attorney can help you protect your rights if you’ve been wrongfully terminated.
Did an Implied Contract Exist?
To determine whether an implied contract exists, several factors are taken into consideration. These may include:
- length of employment;
- whether you received regular job promotions;
- performance reviews; and
- whether your termination went against typical employment practices, such as failing to give a standard warning.
In many instances, illegal firing occurs when an employer is attempting to prevent an employee from collecting sales commissions, or if the employer wishes to replace the employee with a lower-paid employee.
Was Your Termination in Violation of Public Policy?
In addition, if an employee’s termination violates public policy, it may be deemed wrongful. If you were fired or any of the following reasons, your termination may be in violation of public policy.
- Serving on jury duty
- Serving in the military
Discrimination is another common reason for wrongful terminations. Employees are protected, by federal and state laws, against employment discrimination based on race, national origin, gender, age, religion, pregnancy, and disability. A MA employment law attorney can help you determine how to proceed if you’ve been wrongfully terminated.
Altman & Altman, LLP – Boston’s Top Employment Law Firm
If you have been wrongfully terminated, the skilled legal team at Altman & Altman, LLP can help. We have been protecting the rights of MA workers for more than 50 years. Our experienced, knowledgeable attorneys will analyze the details of your case to determine the most appropriate legal strategy, and we’ll ensure that you fully understand your rights and options before moving forward. If your rights have been violated, you may be entitled to compensation for damages. Don’t go through this difficult time alone. Contact Altman & Altman, LLP today for a free and confidential consultation