If you live in a right-to-work state, you may have questions about your potential options should your employer ever fire you for illegal reasons. Is it even possible to file a wrongful termination claim in a right-to-work state?
Short answer: Yes. Right-to-work laws may complicate the process of filing a wrongful termination claim, but they don’t prevent employees from seeking legal recourse when employers break the law. That said, because the process is often complex, it’s very wise to hire an attorney if you plan to file a claim.
What is a ‘Right-To-Work’ State?
In a right-to-work state, there is no standard requirement that employees join or support a union as a condition of employment. Thus, there is no requirement that employees pay union dues or fees, even in a technically unionized workplace. The purpose of right-to-work laws is to ensure employees can choose for themselves whether to join a union.
It’s very common for right-to-work states to also have at-will employment laws. Such laws allow employers to fire employees for any reason as long as they aren’t breaking a law when firing an employee.
What is Wrongful Termination?
Wrongful termination involves an employer firing an employee for an illegal reason. Both federal laws and individual states’ laws establish the various reasons employers can’t use to justify firing their workers.
Examples of illegal reasons for termination include (but aren’t necessarily limited to):
Additionally, an employee’s contract may establish reasons an employer can’t fire them. If an employer breaches the contract by ignoring these terms, they may be engaging in wrongful termination.
It is not always clear whether an employer has committed an illegal act when firing a worker. If you’re not sure whether you have a valid wrongful termination case, discuss the matter with an attorney to learn more about your potential legal options.
Filing a Wrongful Termination Claim
You may file a claim against a former employer if you believe you have been a victim of wrongful termination. Depending on the circumstances, by taking legal action, you could pursue financial compensation and may even seek reinstatement to a job you lost for illegal reasons.
The specific steps necessary for taking legal action against an employer who has committed wrongful termination can vary somewhat on a case-by-case basis. Again, a lawyer can advise you on the best course of action. Generally, though, the process involves:
- Gathering evidence of wrongful termination (such as emails, performance reviews, etc.)
- Speaking with a wrongful termination lawyer
- Filing a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC)
The EEOC will investigate the claim and may attempt to settle the matter through mediation or file a lawsuit on your behalf. Having proper representation may positively influence your odds of success in a lawsuit.
Get Legal Help
If you believe you have been wrongfully terminated in a right-to-work state, it's important to seek legal help as soon as possible. A skilled attorney can help you gather evidence, file a complaint with the EEOC, and potentially file a lawsuit if necessary. Take the Free Case Evaluation on this page today to get connected and speak with a wrongful termination lawyer—at zero cost to you.