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How to Dispute Job Termination

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There is nothing more disheartening than being terminated from a job. Employees are typically fired because they are no longer needed, poor performance or misconduct. If you believe you were wrongly terminated, there are steps you can take to dispute the termination. Be respectful and keep clear-headed and calm while disputing your termination. Blowing up or becoming angry and aggressive can prevent you from obtaining any reparations or compensation from your dispute.

Examine whether or not you have a legitimate case. Some examples of legitimate cases are: discriminatory firing, being fired for filing a complaint about harassment, being fired for revenge or retaliation, being fired for joining or starting a union, being fired for taking legitimate time off such as for family sickness or military service, and being fired for refusing to do a task that is illegal or against your beliefs or religion. Your dispute will be strengthened if you were a long-time employee of the company. If you are a government employee, you also have extra constitutional protection from being fired. Look back on the initial documentation and agreements you signed when hired. Check to make sure you or your employers were not in violation of any legal, privacy or disclosure agreements. If you are a contract or union employee, review your contract to see if you or your employers were in violation of any agreements.

Begin a file and a time-line of your termination. Keep organized copies of all related paperwork and make a document with a chronological listing of related events. Obtain statements from any witnesses or co-workers who can attest to your wrongful termination. Write an overall, summarizing statement about why you think you were wrongly terminated. Keep the statement objective and fact based. This can be used whenever you are introducing your dispute to a new person.

Contact your human resources or union representative and set up a meeting to present your case. They may have some internal avenues for disputing termination.

Write a formal letter of grievance to your employers. Respectfully let them know you would like to appeal against the dismissal decision. Use your statement to tell them exactly why you feel you were wrongly terminated. List any relevant events leading up to the termination. Include copies of contracts or agreements with highlighted sections of any violations. Request a hearing to discuss the situation.

File a complaint with the U.S. Department of Labor. Visit the district office for the district you were working in. Office locations can be found on the U.S. Department of Labor’s website. Take your file with you and fill out the necessary paperwork.

Contact and consult with a lawyer who specializes in wrongful termination law about filing a lawsuit, if necessary.


Mason Howard is an artist and writer in Minneapolis. Howard's work has been published in the "Creative Quarterly Journal of Art & Design" and "New American Paintings." He has also written for art exhibition catalogs and publications. Howard's recent writing includes covering popular culture, home improvement, cooking, health and fitness. He received his Master of Fine Arts from the University of Minnesota.

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