Did you know that an employer can’t fire you in some cases, even if you’re an at-will employee? For example, certain laws protect people who become pregnant or disabled while employed. This guide outlines some of the different types of wrongful termination and what options you have if you believe you were wrongfully terminated.
Written and Implied Promises:
Many types of employment are considered at-will employment. At-will employment means that either you or your employer can terminate your employment at any time. However, several exceptions to this rule exist, including engaging in some form of protected conduct.
If you have a contract, you can make a case that you are not an at-will employee due to written promises. In other words, you can only be terminated for reasons in your contract. If your employer fires you for any other reason, you have been wrongfully terminated.
The situation becomes complex when you only have implied promises that are not written in a contract. Implied promises can be difficult to prove, but an employment and labor law attorney can help do so.
Good Faith and Fair Dealing:
Another exception to at-will employment is when a breach of good faith and fair dealing occurs. This breach can happen when your employer unfairly attempts to force you to quit. Some examples of this concept include:
- Transferring you to a different department to prevent the collection of commission
- Misleading you about promotions and salary increases
- Failing to disclose dangers related to your job site
- Coercing you to quit by creating an unwelcoming work environment
Good faith and fair dealing cases are not always recognized as wrongful termination. An attorney can help you decide whether you have a case and can prove wrongful discharge.
Many wrongful termination cases that go to court concern discrimination. It’s illegal for an employer to fire you based on your race, gender, religion, age, disability, or pregnancy. Some states offer further protections in addition to the ones already listed.
However, before you can make a discrimination claim in court, you are typically required to file a complaint with your state or a federal agency first.
Proving discrimination can be challenging because an employer may deny it ever happened. However, you can use your employment reviews and length of employment to support your status and prove you were treated unfairly.
Public Policy Violations:
Not all wrongful termination cases are based on discrimination. Employers also can’t violate public policies when firing you. If they do, you may have a wrongful termination case.
Violations of public policy include firing you for:
- Taking time off from work to serve on jury duty
- Voting in an election
- Serving in the National Guard or US military
- Filing a workers’ compensation claim
- Notifying authorities about something your employer is doing illegally (known as whistle-blowing)
Many states have additional public policy rules to help prevent wrongful discharge, such as protections for volunteer firefighters.
You also can make a case for wrongful termination if your employer fires you out of retaliation. Several legally protected activities cannot harm your employment status, such as filing a complaint with the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, or filing a written complaint about harassment or discrimination.
You may have a wrongful termination case if your employer retaliated in any way, such as giving you a poor performance review or denying you a promotion based on your complaints.
If you think you’ve suffered a wrongful termination, you may have legal recourse. Talk to an employment and labor law attorney as soon as possible to document your case. An attorney can help you understand wrongful termination laws and prepare you for testimony in a wrongful termination case.
This case was not handled by our firm. However, if you have any questions regarding this case, or any employment matter, please contact Joseph Maya at 203-221-3100 or by email at JMaya@MayaLaw.com.
If you feel you have been mistreated by your employer or in your place of employment and would like to explore your employment law options, contact the experienced employment law attorneys today at 203-221-3100, or by email at JMaya@mayalaw.com.