Unfair Termination Laws
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Can I Sue for Unfair Termination?
Unfair termination is a different name for wrongful termination, which occurs when an employee is fired illegally. Although many employees are "at-will" employees and can be fired or terminated at anytime without cause, there are some important exceptions where an employee cannot be wrongfully trminated.
Wrongful termination occurs when an employer fires an employee for an illegal reason, and as a result, the employer commits a private wrong (i.e. a tort). Examples include breaching an employment contract and violating a civil rights law. The illegality of the firing depends on the nature of the employment contract.
What's the Difference between a At-Will Employee vs. Just Cause Employment?
There are two types of employment contracts – at-will and just cause.
At-Will Employee: An at-will employee means the employee can quit at any time, and the employer can fire the employee for any or no reason whatsoever. Most employment contracts are at-will.
Just Cause Employment: A just cause employment contract is one where the employer can only fire the employee when he has a good reason to do so. A just cause contract does not need to be in the employment contract alone; a clause written in the employment manual may be enough. Also, firing an employee before a contract is up is considered wrongful termination.
What Is Discrimination by an Employer
Employers may not fired even at-will employees for a discriminatory reason or because the employee is within a certain class of people. There are federal laws to prevent employers from firing you based on:
- National origin
If you have been fired based on discrimination, you must file a complaint of discrimination with a state or federal agency before you can bring a claim against your employer in court.
What Is Constructive Dismissal?
An employer cannot force you to quit a job. For example, an employer cannot change your work environment to make it unbearable or hostile, and they cannot lower your pay and working conditions in an effort to make you quit.
What If My Employer Breached My Employment Contract?
An employee who has been terminated in breach of an employment contract may bring a claim for breach of contract against the employer.
Even some at-will employees can bring a claim against an employee who has given an employee an implied employment contract. An implied employment contract exists when the employer has promised continued employment or permanent employment to the employee and the employee relied on this promise. This claim would only be strong if the employer knew by words or conduct that the employee would detrimentally rely on the promise and the employee would suffer some harm because of the broken promise.
What Wrongful Terminations Violate Public Policy?
A termination violates public policy when an employee is fired for engaging in an act that is a protected activity or they have the right to engage in. For example, an employee is fired for whistleblowing. A whistleblower is a person who reports that his company is involved in some misconduct or wrong. When an employee is fired in retaliation for making reports that the employer is engaging in unlawful conduct or has violated a statute or law, the termination is in violation of public policy.
How Can a Lawyer Help You?
If you believe that your termination was unfair and in violation of a public policy, contact an employment attorney for assistance with understanding your legal rights. There are strict federal and state laws surrounding unfair termination and a experienced employment attorney may assist you in protecting your rights.
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Last Modified: 02-05-2015 02:44 PM PST
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