In 1990, a physician signed a contract with the state of California to provide surgical services for inmates at a women's prison. As a result of the increase in prison population, the surgeon was forced to dedicate more time to his treatment there, and closed his practice. Seven years ago, he was suddenly fired. As a result, he filed a wrongful termination suit, as he was fired without explanation and the state broke his contract. He was recently awarded a $3.3 million settlement.
If an employer does not follow their own termination procedures, such as through breach of contract, an employee may pursue a wrongful termination suit. Many states have become more based on 'at will' employment, which gives employees and employers alike the ability to end a position immediately. This can be a great option for employees, as they can simply walk away. It can also result in employees being very suddenly unemployed.
Wrongful termination suits can be an option when the employer bases termination on discrimination, retaliation, a refusal on the part of the employee to commit and illegal act, or, like this case, if an employer does not follow their own policies for termination.
Many people who are let go from positions are unsure as to their legal options. Speaking with an experienced employment law attorney can be an excellent resource for individual situations to find out whether or not an employer violated the law in terminating employment.
Source: Insurance Journal, "California Prison Doctor Wins $3M Wrongful Termination Suit," Nov. 15, 2012