Wrongful discharge cases are complicated
Wrongful termination from employment in Montana can arise under several circumstances. First, an employee terminated from his employment because of being a part of a protected class, or reporting discriminatory conduct, is entitled to recovery under both state and federal law. Second, an employee who is essentially "forced" to resign because of wrongful conduct on the employer's part, may be entitled to relief. In Montana, this is called constructive discharge. Next, an employee may be entitled to bring a wrongful termination claim where an employer fails to comply with its own policies and procedures governing discipline and/or termination or, in some circumstances, other employment policies. Finally, Montana provides an employee relief for a termination for which "good cause" is lacking.
Many non-attorneys, as well as individuals unfamiliar with Montana's unique body of law surrounding employment, are not aware that Montana is the only state in the United States that requires "good cause" for termination. Most other states are governed by what is commonly referred to as "at-will employment." This means that an employer can terminate an employee for no reason at all or any reason, assuming it is not discriminatory.
Montana law is different. In order to terminate an employee's employment, an employer must have "good cause." This legal standard arises under a unique Act in Montana called the "Wrongful Discharge from Employment Act" (WDEA). The WDEA sets forth the law by which an employer may terminate an employee's employment, as well as various obligations, rights, and remedies. It is critical that any attorney handling a wrongful discharge case in Montana have a clear understanding of these laws, as well as experience in understanding how they have been interpreted and applied in Montana. Here at Meridian Law, we have such experience and knowledge.
The term "good cause" has been defined by numerous cases in Montana in which an employer's basis for discharge has been litigated. These cases have provided a "road-map" by which a terminated employee can assess his or her own claim. It is critical that an employee who has been fired from their job retain an attorney to understand their rights. At Meridian Law, we have handled numerous wrongful termination cases, and we have a strong understanding of what constitutes "good cause" for termination under Montana law.
Wrongful discharge cases are complicated. They turn on very specific facts, facts which are unique to each case. An attorney handling these types of claims must be able to evaluate many issues, such as:
- past employee performance
- an employer's understanding, knowledge, and application of Montana employment law
- similar situations within the same employment setting (and whether they were handled the same or differently)
- policies and procedures governing the workplace at issue
- the specific rationale for termination
- the terminated employee's re-employability
Assessing these factors, and others, can help a terminated employee gain an understanding of his legal rights, as well as likelihood of success, were they to bring a wrongful discharge claim.
In Montana, wrongfully discharged employees are limited to specific recovery -- namely, four years of lost wages and benefits. While the calculation of lost wages might be relatively simple, assessing the value of lost benefits can be complicated. Attorneys must be able to determine both present and future value of lost benefits, as well as the monetary value of less tangible benefits (such as raises, bonuses, deferred compensation, retirement contributions, and the like). Therefore, skilled valuation experts are important to have on your side. Here at Meridian Law, we have worked with many valuation experts who can assist in putting a "dollar amount" on these benefits, so that your claim is maximized to its full potential.
If you believe you have been wrongfully terminated from your employment, contact us to discuss your claim. We want to help you bridge the gap between your former employment and wherever your future takes you.