Unfair Termination: What is Unfair?
Unfair termination is the firing of an employee for unjust reasons. Modern courts have the power to grant “fairness remedies.” Principles of fairness give a judge the right to use discretion so that justice will be served.
But, what is “justice”? Philosophers since Socrates have wondered about this question. Justice is really just someone’s gut reaction after hearing a story. The law allows judges to consider all the facts, and then rely on what amounts to a gut reaction.
Judges should consider all facts and circumstances in cases of unfair termination. Constructive dismissal (being demoted to a menial task), termination with prejudice, termination without good cause, and forced resignation can all constitute unfair termination depending on the circumstances.
For example, a major kind of unfair termination is when an employee is fired in violation of a signed contract. In these cases, there are many fairness factors to be considered: whether the employer received a benefit that it never paid the employee back for, whether the employee spent money in reliance on the employer’s promises, or whether the employer should be ordered to do something, such as give the employee her job back.
As another example, unfair termination is when employees are fired because of their race, color, sex, national origin, or religion. When an employee is fired for reporting wrongful activities, fired for serving on a jury, or fired for filing a worker’s compensation claim, these can constitute unfair termination. Judges have the power to hold the employer liable, based on their gut feelings about the fairness and justice of the situation.
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Last Modified: 06-09-2011 02:53 PM PDT