Fired for an illegal reason? I can help.
I am an employment lawyer in Seattle, Washington, who represents workers in lawsuits against their employers. I focus exclusively on workers’ rights to help victims of unlawful employment practices.
Frequently Asked Questions
Employment law is the area of law concerning employer/employee relationships. Employment law consists of hundreds of state and federal laws that regulate employment relationships in the United States. These laws can involve employee compensation, employment contracts, unemployment claims, workers’ comp, unpaid overtime, minimum wage violations, discrimination, wrongful termination, among many other things. But generally, employment lawyers who represent workers focus primarily on discrimination and wage laws.
Employment lawyers can help explain their client’s rights to them, and if needed, an employment lawyer will help the client bring their claim in court. However, not all claims require a court. Sometimes, employment lawyers merely help their client negotiate a fair resolution without ever getting the court involved. But really, employment lawyers do the same things that all lawyers do. The only difference is that employment lawyers generally focus on claims involving employers and employees.
Usually, the biggest cost in any lawsuit is the attorneys’ fees. Employment attorneys that represent employees in Washington usually charge $300-$600 an hour. However, most employment attorneys who represent workers take cases on a contingency basis, which means that the attorney does not charge anything up front to the client, and instead only takes a portion of the recovery. Usually the contingency portion is between 33%-40% of the recovery.
You should hire an employment lawyer if you think your employer subjected you to an illegal employment practice. Employment law, and the civil legal system generally, is complex and intimidating for anyone unfamiliar with it. Bringing a case against a powerful company will present many pitfalls that regular folks would not know to look out for. But an experienced employment attorney has the tools and expertise to help you navigate the law and the legal system.
At-will employment is a type of employment relationship between employer and employee. Under an at-will employment relationship, either party has the ability to end the relationship at any time for any reason. However, no matter what kind of employment relationship, employers can never terminate an employee for an illegal reason.
The illegal reasons for termination in Washington are as follows: (1) discrimination, (2) retaliation, (3) violations of public policy, and (4) violations of contract. See my Employment Law Guides to learn more about each type of illegal termination.
Yes, Washington is an at-will employment state. Most states, apart from Montana, are at-will employment states.
Yes, you can sue your employer for firing you IF they fired you for an illegal reason. And that’s a big “if.” Most terminations are totally legal. If you were terminated for a reason that does not break the law, then you cannot sue your employer for firing you.
Attorneys for employees are generally referred to as plaintiffs employment attorneys. Generally, in employment claims, employees sue their employer, not the other way around. And when one party sues another, the party doing the suing is called the plaintiff. The party being sued, on the other hand, is called the defendant.
Sometimes, but not always. If your employer asked you to do something illegal and you refused, and in response, your employer terminated you, then you can sue your employer for violating public policy. But public policy claims require your employer to terminate you first before you can sue.
Yes, in fact most of the time when a worker brings a claim against their employer, they are no longer working for the employer. The reason workers generally sue their former employer is because, much of the time, the employer’s illegal conduct included firing the worker for an illegal reason.
Employment lawyers in Washington usually charge somewhere between $300-$600 an hour. However, employment lawyers who represent workers generally take cases on contingency basis, which means they will not charge the worker anything up front, and instead only take a portion of the recovery.
Contingency employment lawyers are lawyers who take cases on a contingency basis instead of charging their clients by the hour. Under a contingency fee agreement, the lawyer usually does not charge the client anything up front and instead takes their fees as a portion of the recovery if they win the case. This portion of the recovery is usually somewhere between 33%-40%.
Sometimes, but not always. Some employment lawyers charge a fee for consultations. This fee can range from $100-$400. However, many employment lawyers offer free consultations because consultations can be a great opportunity to find new clients. The attorneys that offer free consultations will usually make it apparent on their website that they offer free consultations (like Hones Law).
For most employment claims in Washington State, you have three years to file your state law claim. However, federal claims have a shorter deadline ranging from 45-300 days to file your claim with the EEOC. So, if you are a government employee, or for any other reason have to file with the EEOC, talk to a lawyer as soon as possible.
You have several options for filing your employment law case. In Washington State, you can file your claim with the Washington Human Rights Commission, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, or you can file directly in state court. You can file your claim on your own, but I suggest first talking to a lawyer to make sure you are correctly alleging all the important pieces of information.
The best employment lawyer for you will be different from the best lawyer for someone else. Over the course of litigation, you will spend a substantial amount of time talking to and interacting with your lawyer, so it is important that you get along. So, talk to as many employment lawyers as you can before you decide which one is the best employment lawyer for you.
Yes, you can hire a lawyer to sue your employer. However, lawyers have a duty to only bring valid legal claims. So, as long as you have a valid legal claim against your employer, you can hire a lawyer to sue your employer.
You can sue your employer for many reasons, but the most common employment claims for workers to bring against their employer include the following: (1) discrimination, (2) retaliation, (4) hostile work environment, and (5) wrongful termination.
Under Washington’s Law Against Discrimination, workers who win their claim can recover lost wages, emotional distress, and attorneys fees. So, the value of your case will depend on how long you worked with the company, how long you have been out of work, how long you expect to be out of work, the extent of your emotional harm, and the length of time your attorney spends on your case.
Settlements are generally kept confidential, so no official figures exist to quantify the average settlement value. However, in Hones Law’s experience, most claims settle somewhere between $10,000 and $100,000. And yes, that is a wide range, but the value of your case will depend heavily on the value of your lost wages and the extent of your emotional harm. So, the settlement amounts differ wildly depending on your income and how egregious your employer’s illegal conduct was.
Yes, under Washington’s Law Against Discrimination, workers who win their claims can collect lost wages, emotional distress, and attorneys fees.
Sometimes, but not always. If your employer subjected you to an illegal employment practice and you lost significant earnings, suffered a hit to your career trajectory, and/or suffered emotional harm, then suing your employer is probably worth it. Furthermore, you will be able to hold your employer accountable for its wrongdoing. And the more we hold employers accountable, the more we protect other workers.
If you were terminated for an illegal reason, you should call an employment lawyer at once. However, if you are still working for the company, the best option is usually to just document the employer’s conduct by submitting a formal complaint to HR and keeping a written record for yourself. Your formal complaint will serve as notice to your employer, and we will be able to use that complaint as evidence if you end up bringing a claim later.
In most employment law cases, the hardest element to prove is the causal connection between your protected activity or protected characteristics and the adverse action your employer took against you. Facts that help you show that causal connection help you make a good case. For example, is there a close proximity in time between your protected complaint and your employer firing you? That would make a good case. Alternatively, did your employer say anything negative about your protected characteristics shortly before firing you? That would also make a good case.
The statute of limitations is the deadline to file your employment law claim. Most employment law claims in Washington state have a three-year statute of limitations. However, this three-year rule is not a firm rule. Some claims have much shorter statutes of limitations. For instance, if you are a government employee, you may have to file with the EEOC shortly after the illegal conduct occurred. So, talk to a lawyer as soon as possible after you suspect any illegal activity.