Help! I’ve Lost My Job! What Rights Do I Have Under Federal Law?
If you’ve lost your job unexpectedly, there are questions that you need answered pretty quickly to keep your life in order. The first thing on your mind may be whether you can fight your dismissal and keep things the way they were. If that is not possible, or if you try and fail, then you you’ll want to know how to survive until you can get another job.
There are federal laws that protect employees who have been terminated under certain circumstances. The most notable federal protection against being terminated is the Civil Rights Act of 1964. This law protects an employee from being terminated on the basis of race, gender, religion, or national origin. If you believe that your job loss was because you were a member of one of these “protected classes”, you can challenge the action. For example, if you believe you were fired because you were female, you may wish to challenge the action under this law.
In addition to protections of the Civil Rights Act, Congress, over the years, has enacted protections for whistleblowers employed in certain industry sectors, for disabled persons, and for those affiliated with the armed services. Consequently, you may challenge the loss of your job if you have protection based on one of these categories. If disabled, the EEOC is the federal authority charged with handling such complaints. If affiliated with the armed services, the United States Department of Labor would handle your complaint.
If you do not challenge the termination or if your challenge fails, you are entitled to seek unemployment compensation benefits under the Federal-State Unemployment Insurance Program. This program provides income for a limited period of time while you can find another job. To qualify for benefits, you must generally be able to show that you lost your job through no fault of your own.
Also as a matter of federal law, if you participate in an employer-sponsored group health insurance plan and your employer has 20 or more employees, you are entitled to continue your coverage for a period of time under the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act. This law provides that you may continue your insurance for 18 months as long as you pay the premiums.
If you believe you were terminated from your job due to your membership in one of these protected federal classifications, call the law firm of Tipp & Buley. We have extensive experience in employment- and labor-related litigation, and we know how to press a claim of wrongful discharge. Call us at 406-549-5186 or contact us online to set up a one-on-one consultation..