Wrongful Termination in Maryland
Maryland wrongful termination laws protect employees from being fired for illegal reasons. A termination is considered to be illegal if it violates a law, or if it violates terms that are set out in an employment contract. Like many other states, Maryland’s wrongful termination laws are modeled after federal statutes.
Examples of illegal terminations include firing based on discrimination, and firing as a form of harassment. A successful wrongful termination claim can result in the worker being reinstated to their occupation, with possible recovery for losses such as back pay.
Under Maryland employment laws, employment is generally regarded as “at-will”. This means the worker may be terminated by their employer for any reason that they deem fit, as long as it is not illegal. Conversely, the employee is free to end the work relationship as well. While this may make it more difficult to succeed with a wrongful termination claim, several exceptions to the at-will standards do exist:
- Breach of an Implied Contract: In some instances, Maryland courts have ruled that the oral statements of an employer can form an implied contract. For example, if they told the employee that they would keep their job so long as performance is satisfactory, it could form the basis for an implied contract. Implied contracts can also be created by statements in a company handbook.
- Public Policy Justifications: Termination is wrongful and illegal if it breaches public policy expectations. Examples of public policy violations include firing an employee because they:
- Filed a worker’s comp claim
- Missed work because they reported for jury duty or military service
- Refused to commit an illegal act according to the employer’s instructions or requests
- Refused to work in an unsafe environment
- Asserted their legal right to be paid for overtime work
- Asserted their legal right to be paid a minimum wage
Thus, there are several different approaches to wrongful termination in the state of Maryland. The ability to pursue a particular legal theory will depend on the facts of each individual claim. The majority of wrongful termination claims involve discrimination and harassment. A qualified Maryland lawyer can provided you more information if there is a legal basis for a claim.
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Last Modified: 09-06-2012 08:43 AM PDT
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