Many states across the country are at-will employment states. This means that an employer or an employee can terminate their employment at any time for almost any reason. However, there are certain reasons for which an employer cannot fire an employee. If an employee is fired for one of these reasons it could be illegal and considered a wrongful termination.
There are many actions and decisions that can make a termination illegal. However, the following are some of the most common:
- A termination that violates state or federal anti-discrimination laws
- Firing as a form of sexual discrimination or harassment
- Firing an employee as a form of retaliation for a complaint against their employer
- A termination that violates oral or written employment contracts
- A termination that violates labor laws or collective bargaining legislation
Although an employee may feel very angered after a termination that they feel was illegal and wrongful, it is important for them not to act on these negative feelings they have against their employer. Instead it is a good idea to gather the necessary information to determine whether the termination was indeed wrongful.
This means asking questions to determine the ultimate reason for the termination, who decided the termination was necessary, requesting to view your personnel file, requesting a severance package and much more. It is important not to be intimidated as these are all things that are perfectly reasonable for an employee to request from their previous employer.
If an employee does feel intimidated, confused or lost with the process, there are options to learn more about employee rights.
Source: Findlaw, Wrongful Termination Claims, Accessed on July 28, 2014