The rise in the gig economy has raised questions about the job rights of the growing freelancer population. Wrongful termination is an issue wherein freelancers may be wrongfully fired from a project without adequate grounds. This article discusses the legal safeguards accessible to freelancers who have been wrongfully terminated. Moreover, it explores how they can take legal action against their employer.
Wrongful termination happens when an employer fires a worker in violation of federal or state labor laws or the contract’s provisions. While employment rules protect traditional workers against unfair dismissal, freelancers may not always have the same protection. It’s because gig economy agreements are frequently characterized by independent contractor status.
Freelancers are typically considered self-employed and are not protected by the same labor regulations that apply to employees. It means that without particular contractual agreements guaranteeing job security or precise termination processes, freelancers may be subject to sudden dismissals with no legal redress.
Facing wrongful termination as a freelancer is as devastating as it is for conventional workers. Here are some common scenarios where these individuals face this issue:
- Breach of Contract: Freelancers’ written contracts specify the scope of their work, project duration, and termination terms. If an employer fires a freelancer before the project is finished without a good cause indicated in the contract, it’s a breach of contract. Hence, it may be grounds for a wrongful termination lawsuit.
For example, a contract calls for a six-month project duration. However, if the freelancer’s fired in two months, it can be considered wrongful termination.
- Discrimination: Federal legislation, such as the Civil Rights Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act, protect freelancers against discrimination. As per these laws, terminating a freelancer as discrimination is wrong.
- Retaliation: Freelancers often face wrongful termination when they report unlawful activity or submit complaints against their employer. It may be wrongful termination if an employer fires a freelancer in reprisal for whistleblowing or other protected conduct.
- Violation of Public Policy: Some states acknowledge an exemption to at-will employment based on public policy, which may also apply to freelancers. It’s unjust for an employer to fire a freelancer for reasons against public policy, such as refusing to participate in criminal activities. It varies according to state legislation and necessitates a thorough evaluation of the circumstances and applicable legal precedents.
Regardless of job type, every worker in this country is legally protected through various measures. The same applies to freelancers who are protected by the following legal documents and laws:
- Employment Contracts: Freelancers should actively seek formal contracts for each assignment. These contracts should include the project’s scope, projected length, pay, and termination clauses. A clear and well-drafted contract can offer some protection against arbitrary dismissals. If wrongfully terminated, the contract can be used to back up the freelancer’s claim.
- Anti-Discrimination Laws: These federal-level laws protect freelancers and conventional workers. It’s illegal to terminate employees based on race, color, religion, gender, national origin, etc. Hence, freelancers who were discriminated against and fired unfairly can file a complaint with the EEOC.
- Whistleblower Protections: Freelancers who disclose unlawful actions or employer misbehavior can be protected under whistleblower laws. Whistleblower rights protect freelancers from retaliation, including termination, for sharing information or exposing wrongdoing inside the business. Freelancers should know their whistleblower rights and document any protected activity to improve their case if fired unfairly.
- State Laws and Regulations: Some jurisdictions have enacted particular freelancer laws to address concerns like nonpayment and punitive activities. Freelancers should become acquainted with their state’s labor laws and regulations. These laws would help them understand the extent of their protection if wrongfully terminated.
Wrongful termination is a suable offense, and freelancers can legally challenge their employer. Here are the steps one can take to start this journey of finding justice:
- Gather Evidence: If freelancers feel they were unlawfully fired, they should start by gathering evidence to back up their claims. It includes emails, text messages, contracts, performance assessments, etc., detailing the events leading to the termination.
- Consult an Attorney: Wrongfully terminated freelancers can obtain legal representation from an employment attorney who has handled gig economy matters. An attorney can evaluate the claim’s strength, direct the required legal steps, and defend the freelancer’s interests.
- Mediation and Negotiation: Before turning to litigation, it is generally preferable to try mediation or discussion to resolve the problem outside of court. A professional mediator can help the parties communicate and find a mutually acceptable conclusion. This method can save everyone time, money, and mental turmoil.
- File a Lawsuit: If mediation and negotiation fail to produce satisfying outcomes, the freelancer can sue the employer for wrongful termination with an attorney. The lawsuit will be based on the facts acquired, and legal arguments will be presented to support the allegation.
How can I sue my employer for wrongful termination? This widely asked question is more difficult to answer for freelancers. While freelancers may not have the same security as typical employees, certain legal safeguards are in place to contest wrongful termination. Freelancers must understand their contractual rights and seek legal guidance to resolve the issue. Freelancers can better defend themselves from unfair termination with the help of an expert employment lawyer.
Bourassa Law Group is dedicated to helping clients, including freelancers, get justice. Our team of employment lawyers assists clients in understanding the legal procedure and earns them fair compensation.
Want to sue your employer for wrongful termination? Contact us today to discuss the matter in a free consultation session.
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