Can I Sue My Employer?

Brad Nakase, Employment Attorney

The workplace can be a tumultuous environment. You have to deal with all kinds of people. You have the lunch stealer, the smelly food eater, the desk drummer, the chatterbox and last but not least, the scary, power-hungry, slavemaster boss. The workplace is full of ruthless employers that would not hesitate to discriminate against and treat their employees unfairly. This is why employees have rights and are protected under law. As an employee, it is imperative that you have knowledge of these laws. If you are discriminated against or otherwise treated unfairly, you have the right to sue your employer. However, the reality is that most discrimination, harassment and retaliation lawsuits are either lost, dropped or just settled. In addition, the process of suing your employer can be lengthy and time consuming. Nevertheless, it is important to be able to hold employers accountable by hauling them to court.

Wrongful Termination

Most employment is at will employment, meaning the employee can be terminated at any time. However, an employer may be liable for wrongful termination if an employer fires an employee for the following reasons:

  • for no reason
  • For performing poorly but without any prior notice
  • if they had a written or verbal contract
  • Right after the employee files a complaint
  • Without following company policy.

If you want to go through with a wrongful termination case you must show evidence of your termination without justification. For example, you can show a copy of your employment contract or provide proof of an oral contract.

Illegal Deducting Pay

Employees are protected from unfair pay deductions by the Wages and the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). This act also sets standards for overtime, employment of minors, and even record keeping. With regards to pay, you are entitled to minimum wage. Each state sets its own minimum wage standards. If you work more than forty hours a week, your employer also owes you overtime at a rate that is at least time and a half of what you usually make. Employers are also expected to keep records of how many hours you worked and how much they need to pay you. If you ever feel like you were paid unfairly, get an employer lawyer to help you decide whether taking legal action would be a good decision. Make sure you hold on to your paycheck stubs and other important documents that may be presented in a court of law.

Employee Discrimination

Proving workplace discrimination is no easy task. Attempting to sue an employer for discrimination involves showing that the discrimination you suffered has absolutely nothing to do with your job performance. You also need to show that you’re a member of a protected class that experiences discrimination frequently. For example, you might feel like you were discriminated against because you are African American. You have to prove that the real reason for the discrimination is not your poor performance but rather your race.

Workplace Harassment and Sexual Harassment

Employees often throw jabs at each other, however if you are ever at the receiving end of  inappropriate comments, offensive remarks or sexual harrassment, you have the right to sue your employer. It doesnt matter if  its a a coworker, supervisor, or manager, unwanted sexual advances in the workplace are prohibited. To file a lawsuit for sexual harrassment, you need prove of the sexual advances and evidence that you reported this to your human resources department and they failed to take any action.


Although employers probably itch with the desire to retaliate after you pursue legal action against them, this is illegal. Examples of retaliation include things like giving you a huge workload and refusing to give you days off. In a court of law, you would need to show a timeline of events and evidence of the retaliatory action.


While employers often take the liberty of giving you a few harsh words every now and then, making false statements that affect your employment are not allowed. Defamation can affect your pay and keep you from finding another job. To take legal action against your employer for defaming you, make sure you provide evidence of your employer’s words and your losses as a result. Also, seek out legal help to help you put together proper evidence and ensure that you have a strong case. If you do this, you might just have a winning lawsuit.

Personal Injuries

Injury is a common occurrence in the workplace. If you are injured while working you are entitled to financial compensation as well as time off to recover. This is all covered by your worker’s compensation insurance policy.  However, if your employer ignores the claim or doesn’t have insurance, you might need to look into taking legal action. You would need to provide proof that your employer did not compensate you fairly for your injury and/or didn’t provide a safe working environment. To prove this, you can offer things like photos of the workplace environment.

© Copyright | Nakase Law Firm (2019)