At will employment is common. It means that you can be terminated by your employer for basically any reason. However, you will be given notice of this arrangement when you are hired into a position.
Although you are hired at will, you do have some laws protecting you, and there are exceptions in place. If you are fired as an act of discrimination, because you are a whistleblower, or because you were exercising your right for medical or family leave, then you can still pursue a wrongful termination case.
Three Things You Cannot Be Fired For
There are some things that law prohibits workers from being fired for. Here is a rundown of five prohibited reasons for workplace termination:
- Discrimination – you cannot be fired as an act of discrimination because of your religion, age, or race; as an example, you are Jewish and your employer makes fun of Jews, makes inappropriate references to the Holocaust and Nazis and then fires you for no reason after making an inappropriate joke about your religious beliefs
- Whistleblowing – if you complain about workplace conditions, or if you report unethical or illegal behaviors, you are protected from retaliation, demotion, or termination; as an example, you reported that your employer was not paying overtime as required because he was declaring employees as contractors when they are not
- Medical or family leave – for example, if you are pregnant and ask to take leave or if you must care for a spouse facing a life-threatening illness and ask for time of work through the FMLA
If you believe you have been wrongfully terminated because you were fired for one of these reasons, then you will need to gather supporting evidence and documentation to challenge your employer and to file a wrongful termination claim.
There may be other reasons that you cannot be terminated, and an employment law attorney can review your specific situation and determine what laws – if there were any – that were violated.
There are some other reasons that you cannot be terminated, such as Union membership – you cannot be terminated from your job because you have joined a union, but if you are employed by a company that only hires union members and you stop paying union dues or are removed from union membership, then you could lose your job for not being a member of the union, if you refuse to take a polygraph test, or if your company wants to get out of paying you a commission.
What To Do If You Were Wrongfully Terminated
If you believe you have been wrongfully terminated, you should promptly pursue a claim.
An at-will working relationship means that either you – as employee – or your employer can end the working relationship at any time with or without advance notice and for any reason – or even no reason – at all.
If your termination from employment violates state’s public policy, terminations occur after an implied contract for employment was established, or terminations that violate the implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing are considered common law wrongful terminations.
Wrongful termination can include terminations that violate federal, state, and local anti-discrimination laws.
If you believe you have been wrongfully terminated, you should enlist the help of an employment law attorney.
An attorney will be familiar with the state and federal laws, and will be able to investigate your claim, gather supporting evidence and documentation, and make sure you are treated fairly.
If you have been the victim of wrongful termination, you may have suffered a variety of damages. Your lawyer will be able to add up your losses and help you determine the fair value of a settlement.
You will need evidence and supporting documentation to pursue a claim for wrongful termination. You should hold on to work related documents, such as your employment contract and your employee handbook.
Maintain copies of employee reviews, any reprimands, memos, and messages. Be sure to document everything that is said, by whom, and when. Make note of any witnesses. These witnesses could be helpful to the outcome of your claim.
If you have been the victim of wrongful termination, you should speak with an employment law attorney. Complete the form to request your free case evaluation today.
There is a statute of limitations, or a limited time, for pursuing a wrongful termination claim. If you wait too long, you cannot recover your damages. Damages may include lost wages and benefits, mental anguish, and more.