I have been FIRED. What do I do now?
You are not helpless. First, write a short letter to your former employer asking for three things:
Send this letter by certified mail, return receipt requested. Remember to keep a copy of the letter for your records. Next, contact an experienced employee rights lawyer to put together a plan to put your life back together.
- All compensation you are due. "Please forward to me immediately all payment for all unpaid compensation, including accrued personal leave time, as required by Minnesota Statutes."
- A copy of your personnel file. "Please provide me with a complete copy of my personnel file, as required by Minnesota Statutes, 181.961."
- The true reason for your termination, if you were fired within the last 15 days. "Please provide me with a statement of the truthful reason for my termination, as required by Minnesota Statute 181.933."
What about Unemployment Compensation?
You may qualify for Minnesota unemployment benefits. The issue is whether or not you were fired or quit voluntarily, and, if fired, if you were fired for misconduct. If you quit voluntarily or were fired for misconduct, you will be denied benefits. You can begin the application process online at uimn.org. If you are denied initially, you may appeal the denial to an administrative law judge for a telephone conference hearing. This hearing can be complicated by problems with testimony, evidence and exhibits. You should at least meet with an attorney to discuss a plan for this hearing. You are also entitled to be represented at this hearing by an attorney you hire. An attorney is a useful tool at this point.
I should not have been fired. Can I sue my former employer for wrongful termination?
In Minnesota, unless you have a written employment contract, such as through a union, you are an "employee at will." This means that you can quit for any reason or no reason at all. Your employer can likewise fire you for any reason or no reason at all. BUT... there are a few exceptions. Your employer cannot fire you for an illegal reason, such as racial, sexual, religious, sexual preference, or age discrimination. Your employer cannot fire you in retaliation for you doing something you have a right to do, such as file a worker's compensation claim, seek FMLA leave, or report a violation of law or rule. An employer cannot fire you for testing positive on a workplace drug or alcohol test for the first time without allowing you to rehabilitation or counseling. Your situation may be an exception to the general rule. You should consult an experienced employee rights attorney to review your own situation.
I flunked a drug test at work? What can I do?
In Minnesota, drug and alcohol testing of employees and job applicants is controlled by a state law that protects employees from arbitrary testing and gives them a number of rights connected to the testing. For instance, the statute prevents an employer from firing an employee for a first positive drug test if the employee completes a rehabilitation or counseling program set by the employer. If the employer violates the statute, the employee can sue for damages, including reinstatement to the job. To see if and how this statute applies to you, you should contact an experienced employee rights attorney.
Why should I hire an attorney?
To determine if you have a case, you should at least meet with an experienced employee rights attorney to review your situation and understand your options. A free telephone consultation is yours.