When an employer fires you in a manner that is unjustified, you might believe that you have a solid wrongful termination case. In some circumstances, this might actually be true. However, courts can sometimes rule in an unpredictable way, and there might be a factor that could unexpectedly lead to your case being dismissed. Sometimes, the judge accepts that the employer made a mistake in good faith.
Here are some ways "honest mistakes" are used in a court of law:
Wrongful Termination for an Honest Mistake
One example of a simple mistake made by an employer is when previous ownership allows an employee to use company resources. Then, when your company is purchased by new ownership, they may fire you for misuse of company resources without notifying you of a change in company policy. While the reason for terminating you might be incorrect, since the company is unaware of the previous policy, the court may rule that the employer had an honest belief when making the decision.
How Honest Mistakes are Used to Mask an Ulterior Motive
The situation can be complicated when the employer uses neutral language to mask the real reason for firing you. For example, you may suffer from a debilitating condition that often requires that you take time off from work. In this case, you may need help from an employment rights law attorney to prove that the reason for your termination was wrongful.
The employer and his or her legal team will likely gather evidence showing that the decision to terminate you was based on facts that they were considering when terminating you for a misuse of company resources. Your attorney will need to find evidence that the employer was more concerned about your disability. This could include written statements that show contempt for the disability and time time taken off as well as evidence that the employer failed to make reasonable accommodations.
The Timing of the Termination
The timing of the termination is crucial. If the employer was aware of your use of company resources and did not take action to terminate you until you were forced to take time off, this could be used as evidence that the employer was really concerned about your disability.
You may also need to prove that you actually have the disability by supplying medical records and possibly a doctor's note. Because wrongful termination cases can include so many factors, it is typically best to hire an employment rights law attorney who can gather all of the evidence necessary.