Employment Termination Lawyers
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What Is Employment Wrongful Termination?
Wrongful termination occurs when an employer fires an employee for a reason based or some type of discrimination or other unlawful reason.
It is important to recognize what is not wrongful termination. All states have laws that establish "at-will employment." These laws vary by state. At-will employment means that employees can quit their jobs without notice and for any reason. Likewise, an employer can fire or lay off employees without a reason, as long as the reason is not discriminatory in nature.
Most reasons for firing a person are not discriminatory. For example, a person can be fired randomly or for something as subtle as a personality conflict.
Many times there is an at-will clause in the employment contract that is signed by the employee. However, the agreement may also be oral. But again, the ability to fire an at-will employee does not allow an employer to wrongfully terminate an employee.
What Are Examples of Wrongful Termination?
Examples of wrongful termination include:
- Discrimination – Termination based on race, sex, religion, disability, age or, in about half of the states, sexual orientation.
- Constructive Discharge – Compelled to resign because the working conditions were so intolerable it is virtually impossible to continue working.
- Union Contracts – Many states prohibit employers from threatening, intimidating, discriminating, or terminating any employee for exercising their right to engage in a strike.
- Family and Medical Leave Act – An employee cannot be terminated for taking paternity or medical leave.
- Serving in the Military – A person may not be terminated if they take leave to serve in the military.
- Voting – An employee cannot be terminated for taking off work to vote in a county, state or national election.
- Wage Garnishment for an Outside Debt – If an employee’s paycheck is garnished for some outside debt, the employer may not terminate them based on the garnishment.
- Whistleblowing – A person, usually an employee, who reports the illegal practices or misconduct. They may not be terminated or retaliated against. This applies regardless of whether the employee reports the misconduct internally or to an outside government agency.
- Other Insufficient Terminations – Violence or threatening is generally a basis for termination but only if it is serious and continuous. If the behavior is minor and isolated it is usually not cause for termination.
Should I Hire an Attorney?
If you have been recently terminated from your job, you are undoubtedly upset or confused. Employment law can be quite complicated. If you believe you have been wrongfully terminated, it is important to speak with an employment attorney immediately, especially because many states have laws that limit the time you have to bring a lawsuit. Also, note that even if you have not been terminated yet, an attorney can help you negotiate a severance package for acceptable compensation.
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Last Modified: 03-13-2015 02:38 PM PDT
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