Wyoming is one of the states with no "private right of action" for wrongfully terminated workers to seek redress against their employers through filing a lawsuit in the state court system. Therefore, if you've been wrongfully terminated, you'll have to file your grievance with the assistance of your labor union or seek administrative remedies through filing a complaint with either the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, otherwise known as the EEOC, or the Wyoming Department of Workforce Services.
Part of the labor-relations vernacular that means you have an issue with something your supervisor said or did to you at work often is called "grievance handling" or "filing a grievance." In a unionized work environment, you file a grievance with your union steward, who's usually a co-worker. The union steward then helps you present your complaint to the supervisor. If the matter can't be resolved by a manager or the human resources department manager, your complaint goes to arbitration. Binding arbitration is similar to a court proceeding where the parties present evidence that supports their positions. An impartial arbiter makes a decision to which the parties agree to adhere.
Wyoming is a right-to-work state and, although not surprisingly, has the lowest number of workers who are represented by a labor union than any other jurisdiction in the U.S., according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics data related to union affiliation. That said, if you're not one of the 20,000 workers in the entire state of Wyoming who is represented by labor unions, you'll have to file a complaint with one of the government agencies charged with addressing employers' unfair employment practices. The federal agency with which to file is the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, and the state agency is the State of Wyoming Department of Workforce Services' Labor Standards Office.
If the company you worked for employed 15 or more workers, it must comply with many of the federal laws that the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission enforces. Filing a grievance against your former employer based on federal law includes filing a formal charge of discrimination with the EEOC if you believe you were wrongfully terminated because of any of the non-job-related factors that make up the protected classes of workers subject to workplace discrimination. These include such factors as age if you're 40 and older, color, disability, national origin, race, religion and sex. An agency staff member will determine whether your complaint warrants investigation. Contact your former employer for its records and position on the termination, and push for mediation if there's any reason to believe the company engaged in unfair employment practices.
Workers who were wrongfully terminated from small businesses -- those with fewer than 15 employees -- have only one option, and that is to file a formal complaint with the State of Wyoming. You must file the complaint within 300 days after you were fired from your job. The state's Department of Workforce Services' Labor Standards Office handles employees' complaints concerning unfair employment practices. Similar to the EEOC intake process, the Labor Standards Office has an intake questionnaire that former employees complete prior to filing a formal charge. For example, if you believe that your termination involved unfair treatment concerning a disability, you would fill out the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) Intake Questionnaire (see Resources.)
- Advocate.com: Wyoming Rejects Antidiscrimination Bill
- Workplace Fairness: Filing a Discrimination Claim -- Wyoming
- Nolo: Employment Discrimination in Wyoming
- U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission: Filing a Charge of Discrimination
- National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation: Right to Work States
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: Union Affiliation of Employed Wage and Salary Workers by State
- U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission: Laws & Guidance
Ruth Mayhew has been writing since the mid-1980s, and she has been an HR subject matter expert since 1995. Her work appears in "The Multi-Generational Workforce in the Health Care Industry," and she has been cited in numerous publications, including journals and textbooks that focus on human resources management practices. She holds a Master of Arts in sociology from the University of Missouri-Kansas City. Ruth resides in the nation's capital, Washington, D.C.