Experienced Montana Employment Lawyer
Has Your Employer Wrongfully Terminated You or Otherwise Violated Employment Laws? Our Montana Employment Attorney Is on Your Side.
Employment problems seriously affect financial stability and can impact a person’s entire life. As an employee, you have legal rights in the workplace. If you were wrongfully terminated, are not being paid what you are owed, are experiencing discrimination or harassment, or have another workplace issue, our Montana employment lawyer will advocate for your rights. Veronica A. Procter passionately stands up for workers when their legal rights are violated.
Wrongful termination occurs when an employee is let go from their job for illegal reasons or if firing the employee violates company policy or an employment contract. Montana is what is called a “good cause” employment state, meaning employers must have legal, reasonable and work-related reasons for firing employees, such as poor job performance. Employers cannot fire employees in Montana “at will” or for no stated reason.
Under the Montana’s Wrongful Discharge from Employment Act (“WDEA”), a termination is wrongful if:
a) it was in retaliation for the employee’s refusal to violate public policy or for reporting a violation of public policy;
b) the discharge was not for good cause and the employee had completed the employer’s probationary period of employment; or
c) the employer violated the express provisions of its own written personnel policy. ( Code Ann. § 39-2-904.)
A “constructive” discharge is also covered under Montana’s Wrongful Discharge from Employment Act (Mont. Code Ann. § 39-2-903). This refers to a voluntary termination of employment by an employee because of a situation created by an act or omission of the employer which an objective, reasonable person would find so intolerable that voluntary termination is the only reasonable alternative. Constructive discharge does not mean voluntary termination because of an employer’s refusal to promote the employee or improve wages or responsibilities or other terms and conditions of employment.
Don’t delay in contacting Procter Law, PLLC, if you believe you were wrongfully terminated. Wrongful termination claims must be filed within one year of termination or you will be time-barred from pursuing your civil claim. Veronica A. Procter is on your side when you’re faced with the devastating financial impacts of an unexpected job loss. Call Procter Law, PLLC, today at (406) 294-8915 to set up a consultation.
Are there exceptions to the WDEA?
Yes. The Wrongful Discharge from Employment Act does not apply to the discharge of an employee who is covered by a written collective bargaining agreement or by a written contract of employment for a specific term. Collective bargaining agreements must be interpreted according to federal, not state, law. Other written employment contracts are governed by Montana law.
If your employer breached your employment contract, you may be able to assert civil claims for breach of contract, breach of the covenant of good faith and fair dealing, and other related claims.
Can my former employer “blacklist” me?
No. Montana prohibits backlisting. Pursuant to Mont. Code Ann. § 39-2-801, Employers and their agents are prohibited from blacklisting discharged employees and from preventing or attempting to prevent any employee from obtaining employment with another employer. This applies to all former employees, whether they left employment voluntarily or involuntarily. Violations of the blacklisting statute may result in an award of compensatory and punitive damages for the former employee. (Mont. Code Ann. §39-2-802).
Can my former employer enforce my covenant not to compete?
Generally, covenants not to compete are disfavored in Montana. Mont. Code Ann. § 28-2-703 provides that any contract by which anyone is restrained from exercising a lawful profession, trade or business of any kind, other than as provided for by 28-2-704 or 28-2-705, is to that extent void.
What compensation am I entitled to?
Depending on your situation, compensation for wrongful termination or breach of employment contract could include payment for lost wages, benefits, pensions and job reinstatement, for example. Our Montana employment attorney will review your unique case and advise you about damages you may be entitled to get. Call our law firm at (406) 294-8915 today to arrange a consultation.
Wage and Hour Law Violations
State wage and hour laws govern minimum wages, overtime pay, how soon employees must be paid upon termination and other wage issues. When laws are violated, employers can be held accountable. Mont. Code Ann. § 39-3 provides that:
- Employers must pay employees no less than the applicable minimum wage, with the exception of seasonal farmworkers.
- Employers who fail to pay the full amount of wages due employees in the time specified under the law are guilty of misdemeanors. They are also liable for the unpaid wages and can be assessed a penalty of up to 110 percent of the wages.
- With a few exceptions, employees who work longer than 40 hours in a week must be paid overtime at time-and-a-half of their hourly wages.
- An employee who leaves their job must be paid all the wages due them by their next regular payday or within 15 days from leaving their job. However, employees who are laid off or separated for cause must generally be paid immediately.
- Employers must inform workers in writing before they start a job how much they will be paid and the dates of pay.
When you work hard at your job, you’re entitled to the money that is owed to you under the law, and you are entitled to get your paycheck within the time specified in state law. If your employer isn’t paying you at least the current minimum wage, hasn’t paid you for overtime when you have worked beyond 40 hours in a week, or is otherwise not compliant with employment laws, you may have a legal case against them. Call our employment attorney today to schedule a consultation about your wage and hour law violation case.
Discrimination and harassment at work are a violation of a person’s civil rights. When people are fired, not promoted, not given raises, not provided equal training opportunities or are otherwise treated poorly in the work place because of their age, race, color, national origin, religion, creed, disability, marital status, sex, political belief (in government), or pregnancy, they are being discriminated against. Some specific examples of possible employment discrimination includes when an employer:
- Denies a reasonable maternity leave or refuses to reinstate an employee following the leave
- Consistently passes up promoting an employee who is more qualified than others who are being promoted
- Doesn’t take action against employees who make sexually provocative or racist jokes that make other employees uncomfortable.
These are just a few examples of how discrimination can show itself in the workplace. There are strong state and federal laws against discrimination in the workplace. If you believe you have been discriminated against, our employment lawyer will investigate your case and advise you of your options for bringing a complaint.
Employers Are Prohibited from Retaliation for Reporting Discrimination
It’s also important to know that employers cannot retaliate against you for complaining of discrimination. Retaliation happens when employers punish employees for legally protected activities, including complaining of discrimination. Employers may try to deny raises or promotions, reduce salaries, take unfair disciplinary measures or even fire employees in retaliation. It isn’t only people who are the actual targets of discrimination who may face retaliation. Sometimes other workers who testify on behalf of discrimination or sexual harassment victims may also be retaliated against. Retaliation isn’t always obvious and can be hard to prove. Our Montana employment lawyer at Procter Law has successfully taken on large organizations in discrimination cases and knows how to successfully navigate the legal landscape.
Call Procter Law at (406) 294-8915 to schedule a consultation today.CONTACT US
Steps in Resolving Employment Problems
When you have a workplace problem, depending what it is, you must typically first file a complaint with the appropriate state or federal agency before bringing a lawsuit against your employer. For example:
- Wage and hour law violation complaints are filed with the Compliance and Investigations Bureau of the Montana Department of Labor and Industry.
- Workplace discrimination complaints are filed with the Montana Human Rights Bureau or the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
Once the appropriate administrative agency investigates your employment complaint, they will either find for you or against you. If they find for you, they will take steps to remedy the situation. If they find against you, you can then take your claim to court. Our employment attorney can explain the entire process of filing a complaint against your employer for legal violations.
Get Help from an Experienced Montana Employment Lawyer
Experienced Representation for Complex Cases
Attorney Veronica Procter is a skilled negotiator and aggressive litigator who isn’t afraid to stand up for clients. She is successful in achieving positive resolutions for workers in negotiations with employers. She is also not afraid to go to court when it is in her clients’ best interests. Get the legal help you need from an experienced employment lawyer by calling (406) 294-8915 today to schedule a consultation.