When wrongful termination lawyers think of the term “wrongful termination” they generally have a different meaning then the average person. Wrongful termination to the average person means they were fired for an unfair or unjust reason. In contrast, wrongful termination lawyers look for “protected activity.” Most “protected activity” in Missouri involves statutory protection from retaliation for complaining of sexual harassment, age discrimination, race discrimination, disability discrimination, or some other form of illegal discrimination. Also, it is illegal for an employer to retaliate against you for reporting a Worker’s Compensation injury or other work-related injury. R.S.Mo. § 287.780 (2005). Retaliation usually involves either continued harassment or ultimately wrongful termination. When analyzing wrongful termination, wrongful termination attorneys at Jensen law look at the employer’s claimed reasons for the termination, and whether we can prove those claimed reasons are false. Another factor we strongly look at is the timing between the complaint and the retaliation. The shorter the time between the complaint and the termination, the stronger the case.
Missouri law also recognizes a cause of action for “whistleblowing.” Boyle v. Vista Eyewear, Inc., 700 S.W.2d 859 (Mo.App.1985). Whistleblowing is generally defined as reporting illegal activity to a government agency or to the proper person within your company. This protected activity could be calling OSHA, reporting patient safety violations, refusing to do something illegal, or reporting a crime. Whistleblowing is another form of protected activity that can give rise to a wrongful termination claim. Missouri uses the phrase “termination in violation of public policy.” In order for a claim for wrongful termination in violation of public policy to be successful, generally you must be able to show that the conduct underlying your complaint was either actually illegal (banned by a regulation, statute or constitutional provision) or that you had a good faith belief you were reporting illegal conduct. The Missouri Supreme Court has ruled that in order to prove such a claim you must show that the reporting of the conduct was a “contributing factor” to your termination. Fleshner v. Pepose Vision Institute, P.C., 304 S.W.3d 81 (Mo.2010); Keveney v. Missouri Military Academy, 304 S.W.3d 98 (Mo.2010). As Springfield Missouri wrongful termination attorneys, we analyze these cases on behalf of our clients. These can be difficult cases, but when successful, they can also be quite beneficial to the wrongfully terminated employee. We usually can obtain back wages, future lost wages, and general emotional distress. Often times, punitive damages can also be awarded. If you believe you have been the victim of wrongful termination, call our Springfield Missouri wrongful termination lawyers at Preston Law.