Even though Massachusetts is an at-will employment state, employers cannot fire their employees on illegal grounds. If you were fired on the basis of discrimination, retaliation, or a breach of contract, you could hold your employee legally accountable for their actions. By filing a wrongful termination case, you can seek various monetary damages.
You may be wondering what these damages are and the types you can recover. The answer depends on specific facts of your case. A Massachusetts wrongful termination attorney can review your case and tell you what kind of damages you are entitled to.
Legal remedies available in a wrongful termination claim in Massachusetts
Lost wages refer to the wages/salary and employment benefits (paid vacation, bonuses, retirement contributions, etc.) you lost while you were unemployed after the wrongful termination. For example, if your job paid you $80,000 annually and you could not find a job for a year, the employer is obligated to pay you the entire $80,000. However, if you did find a job, the amount may be less.
Emotional distress is a type of intangible damage. However, you can only file for emotional distress if your employer has acted in a way that had resulted in you suffering a condition that can be verified by a mental health professional. Since emotional distress cannot be manually counted, the decision is entirely up to the jury.
Out-of-pocket expenses mean using your own money to pay for something rather than from a source. If you have incurred any out-of-pocket expenses due to the wrongful termination, you can claim those in your lawsuit—for example, attorney fees for your claim.
Punitive damages are rare in employment-related cases, occurring in about 7-10% of them. Punitive damages are filed when the employer has engaged in derogatory or criminally offensive behavior. These damages are for punishing the defendant for engaging in “outrageous” conduct. For this, your attorney will need to show that your employer engaged in oppression, fraud, or malice. The burden of proof here is very difficult.
You should not have to bear the expensive attorney fees because someone else wronged you. An attorney can help you gather the money required for the fees. Sometimes your attorney will take the case on a contingency basis, where they get a set percentage of what you win.
Every wrongful termination has its own set of unique facts. Since each case is different, it is quite difficult to determine an amount. An attorney can create a rough estimate and give you an idea of how much you can expect.