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When, where, and how to file a wrongful termination claim

You think your employer wrongfully terminated you, but what can you do about it?  In most cases, filing a wrongful termination claim involves multiple steps.  This post provides basic information about when, where, and how to take the first step to file common types of wrongful termination claims.  However, depending on your employer and the type of claim, you may have other options for filing a wrongful termination claim.  There may be additional or other rules or requirements than the ones identified here.  You should review your employer’s policies and procedures.  It’s a good idea to consult with an employment attorney about the specifics of your case.

Discrimination and retaliation

Employment laws prohibit covered employers from discriminating against job applicants, employees, and contractors based on protected traits.  Click here for more information on discrimination and retaliation in our practice areas.

  • Federal laws:
    • Federal employees must file (a) MSPB appeal within 30 days OR (b) EEO complaint within 45 days
    • Everyone else must file EEOC charge within 180 days
  • DC law:
    • DC gov’t employees must file complaint with an EEO counselor within 180 days
    • DC private-sector employees must file complaint with DC Office of Human Rights, OR lawsuit in DC Superior Court within 1 year
  • MD law: File complaint with MD Commission on Civil Rights and/or county commission within 6 months

Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA)

The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) is a federal law that allows eligible employees take unpaid leave for their own serious medical issue or to care for a sick family member.  The District of Columbia and many states have their own FMLA laws that provide similar protections for employees.  Click here for more information about FMLA in our practice areas.

  • Federal law: File lawsuit in federal district court within 2 years (3 years for willful violations)
  • DC law: File complaint with the DC Office of Human Rights OR lawsuit in DC Superior Court within 1 year

Wage and hour

There are federal and state laws about how and when covered employers must pay wages.  Many of these laws also prohibit retaliation against employees who complain that their employers violated wage laws.  In other words, you may be able to bring a wrongful termination case if your employer fired you because you complained about not receiving minimum wage or overtime.  Click here for more information about wage and hour claims in our practice areas.

  • Federal law: File lawsuit in federal district court within 2 years (3 years for willful violations)
  • DC law: File lawsuit in DC Superior Court within 3 years
  • MD law: File lawsuit in circuit court within 3 years

Whistleblower retaliation

In the employment context, whistleblowers are employees who report their employers for engaging in fraud or criminal activity.  Federal and state laws prohibit covered employers from retaliating against whistleblowers.  If you were fired for blowing the whistle, you may be able to sue your employer for wrongful termination.  Click here for more information about whistleblower retaliation.

  • Federal law: Federal government employees must file MSPB appeal within 30 days
  • DC law: File a lawsuit in DC Superior Court within 3 years
  • MD law:
    • MD government employees must file complaint with the Secretary of Budget and Management within 6 months
    • MD government contractors: File a lawsuit in circuit court within 1 year
  • VA law:
    • VA government employees must file grievance with designated management step-respondent within 30 days
    • VA private-sector employees must file a lawsuit in circuit court within 2 years

Wrongful termination in violation of public policy

In the situations above, there are laws that give employees a specific right to sue for wrongful termination.  However, employees may be able to bring a wrongful termination claim even if there isn’t a law that gives them the right to sue.  Depending on the circumstances, you may sue your employer for wrongful termination if your firing violated a public policy.  Click here for more information about wrongful termination in violation of public policy.

  • DC law: File lawsuit in DC Superior Court within 3 years
  • MD law: File lawsuit in circuit court within 3 years
  • VA law: File lawsuit in circuit court within 2 years

Again, different requirements and timelines may apply depending on the facts of your case.

How can Alan Lescht and Associates help me?

Alan Lescht and Associates handles wrongful termination cases for federal government employees, and for clients who work for state and local government agencies or private-sector employers in DC, Maryland, and northern Virginia.  We can determine if you have a claim for wrongful termination and whether you can recover damages.  We will explain when, where, and how to file your case.  Whether you want to seek an out-of-court settlement or file a lawsuit, our attorneys can help you discuss your options and develop a legal strategy.  Call us today at (202) 463-6036, or email us at alan.lescht@leschtlaw.com to set up a consultation.

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Discrimination Employee Rights Federal Employees FMLA Hostile Work Environment Law Retaliation Sexual Harassment Wage & Hour Whistleblower Retaliation Wrongful Termination

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