Protected Classes, Wrongful Termination, Discrimination

Understanding your rights in the workplace can feel overwhelming, but you're not alone. One common issue employees face involves discrimination - whether it's based on age, race, gender, religion, or disability, it's a violation of your rights. Everyone is entitled to a work environment free from bias and prejudice. If you believe you've been subjected to workplace discrimination, it's essential to know that the law is on your side. At our firm, we're committed to providing accessible, empathetic guidance to navigate these challenging situations. We bring our extensive experience and knowledge to support you, seeking to empower you with the information you need while fighting tirelessly for justice on your behalf.

Can I sue my employer for discrimination?

Yes. Here’s how. You must go through an administrative process through a state or federal agency with jurisdiction over your claim. The jurisdiction is usually the place where the discrimination, retaliation, or harassment happened. But in Delaware, many large corporations are subject to suit by virtue of their articles of incorporation (founding documents). Many plaintiffs across the country choose to file suit in Delaware because of the ability to gain jurisdiction over corporate officers and those with knowledge of the inner workings of many of the world’s largest companies.

The next steps you must follow to sue your employer involve meeting deadlines, answering process, and attending events that are often scheduled via (snail) mail. It is easy to lose track of all of the hurdles you must jump through in order to sue your employer for discrimination, retaliation, or harassment. You should reach out to our firm for the capable guidance you require in times when the question of a lawsuit is at the forefront of your mind.

Can my employer fire me without a reason?

You may have heard of the term “at will” employment. Many states have laws on the books that mean every employee is an “at will” employee. That is because, in capitalism, we are expected to work for the profit of our employer, who in turn, must bring profit for the benefit of the shareholder. Of course, publicly-traded companies have certain regulatory restraints on the way corporations can run for profit while still being considered “ethical.” But those rules do not always apply. In fact, most states have “at will” employment, which means that an employer may hire you for any reason. An employer may fire you for any reason, too. However, there are some reasons that might be illegal.

Not all private employers are large, publicly-traded corporations. Large corporations with have the ability to employ Human Resources departments, which are supposed to act like internal watchdogs. Sometimes, companies fail to check their own interests before making a decision to fire someone – and that reason could be illegal.

Your employer’s resources, including the amount and availability of liability insurance coverage for damages in connection with employment disputes, matter greatly. A knowledgeable attorney can help you assess the value of bringing a case over your potential employment dispute.

What kinds of reasons for hiring or firing me are considered illegal?

In Delaware, the laws concerning your rights in the workplace mostly track the federal laws on a given topic. Some exceptions apply. For example, Delaware law exclusively protects people who work for employers with 15 or more employees from things like discrimination and retaliation on the base of race, gender, or religion. You can read more about protected statuses under the Delaware Discrimination in Employment Act. Delaware law also protects on the basis of marital status, childcare obligations, and hairstyle. These “protected categories” are available as a basis to bring forward a case under Delaware law, which might not apply in other states.

What are my rights if I'm facing harassment or discrimination at work?

Your rights at work are governed by state or federal law. In Delaware, you can rely on protections afforded by the Delaware Discrimination in Employment Act, the Delaware Persons with Disabilities Act. While these laws appear to protect employees from discrimination and harassment, many workers may not know the specific protections they have or the process for reporting these incidents.

Can you be fired for being gay?

You can be fired for lots of reasons, and sometimes, those reasons are illegal. If you are fired because you are gay, your rights have certainly been violated. You should call a lawyer immediately.

More often, being fired without a reason and being gay can make you think that your sexuality was the reason for your termination. These questions are tough. You should talk to an experienced professional about whether the fact of your sexuality, sexual preference, gender identity, or other characteristic of your living truth was a motivating factor in your separation from employment, such that legal action is an appropriate resource.

Can salary employees get overtime?

It depends – there is a federal guideline/limit based on minimum wage that determines whether your salary is presumptively overtime-eligible. You have to check with your job description/title, nature of duties, to ensure you are indeed overtime “exempt” if paid as a salaried employee. In exchange for salary, it is assumed that you will work overtime. The assumption shifts if the person who is working “on salary” is actually working overtime for less than the minimum wage for their job category.

The ”minimum wage” varies by state, and the exception to minimum wage is for tipped employees. But by nature, tipped vs salaried are two separate wage categories.

FMLA - Can fmla be extended?

You get 12 weeks. But only if you have worked a full year (1,250 hrs over past 12 mo). Sometimes employers will “give you” FMLA on less than 12 months/hr requirement. Then their obligations might kick in, but generally, no, once you spend your FMLA time you are out of luck on federally-protected leave. State law may vary, but you will be hard pressed to find success in any lawsuit based upon your desire to take more than 12 weeks’ leave in a year and hope to be reinstated at your same position/rate.

Can my employer require medical certification for FMLA leave?

Yes 100% absolutely. HIPAA doesn’t mean what most people think it means. FMLA requires you have a legitimate need to take “family or medical” leave. Your employer is entirely entitled to require proof of the legitimacy of that need. So, in the case of the need to take leave for your medical condition, your employer can seek proof of that from which ever treating physician you designate. Ostensibly, this would be the physician who is telling you that you need to take time off of work in order to treat/heal from this injury/condition. This does NOT need to be the same thing as a “disability,” in fact, the idea behind FMLA is that it protects short-term, acute, identifiable situations for which recovery or prognosis is good.

If you fail to provide medical documentation, your FMLA leave will likely be denied. There is no reason to grant FMLA leave if you do not make efforts to obtain the requisite approvals from a qualified medical provider. Your employer’s particular needs, and the function you serve in your role, may play a part in whether and to what extent the reason for your medical leave will be approved. You should consult a lawyer to determine whether your FMLA denial was justified.

If you require FMLA leave due to the condition of another person (a close family member, for example) the rules are slightly different. Often employers will work with you and a social worker or another independent professional who can speak to the caregiving needs that will require you to be absent for work for a specified period of time. If you cannot provide adequate and legitimate proof, your employer may deny you. You should not assume that “medical privacy” or HIPAA will qualify as a defense to a denial of FMLA leave if you are not candid and cooperative with your employer’s requests for medical and/or professional documentation.

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Kate is an experienced litigator in civil and criminal law as well as the area of appellate and post-conviction law.

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The satisfaction and peace of mind that comes with standing up for yourself does not have to be a journey that you must bear on your own. We provide partnership, advocacy, and a steadfast mission to achieve justice.

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Kate has served as a prosecutor in felony, misdemeanor, and criminal cases.  As a prosecutor in the Attorney General’s office, Kate prosecuted hundreds of cases on behalf of the Delaware Department of Justice.  Kate has the insider knowledge you need to mount an effective legal defense.


Court Experience

Kate is an experienced civil litigator with expertise in both federal and state courts.

(302) 966-9994