Wrongful Termination in Michigan
The state of Michigan is considered an “at-will” employment state. This means that both the employer and employee are free to terminate the employment at any given time, and for any legitimate purpose (unless the time period of employment is specifically defined). For this reason, it can be difficult to file a wrongful termination or wrongful discharge claim if your employment is considered to be at-will.
On the other hand, the state of Michigan has implemented several pieces of legislation which relax the standards for at-will terminations. These statutes and laws provide various exceptions to the at-will employment doctrine. Even if your employment is considered to be at-will, you may be able to file for wrongful termination if any of the following exceptions apply to your situation:
- Written Contracts: Any written contracts that cover employment and termination will be considered according to both contract law and employment law. Violations of contract terms may form the basis of a wrongful discharge lawsuit. Technically speaking, if you have an employment contract, your employment is likely not considered to be at-will.
- Oral Promises: The state of Michigan will also consider whether your employer made any oral promises regarding your termination procedures. For example, if they told you that they would not fire you within the next six months, and you relied on this promise to your detriment, it may form the basis for wrongful termination. However, the oral promise exception is very difficult to prove and will be subject to rigorous analysis in court.
- Public Policy Violations: Employers in Michigan may not terminate at-will employees if the termination will violate public policy. This applies to clear as well as implied statements of public policy in legislation. A common example of a public policy violation is retaliatory discharge.
- “Legitimate Expectations”: If your employer has created an environment that causes an employee to believe that certain practices are applicable to all employees, this may create a “legitimate expectation” in the mind of the employee. For example, language contained in an employee handbook can cause an employee to reasonably expect their employer to follow certain termination procedures. This exception is not based on any contract law and is unique to the state of Michigan.
A successful wrongful termination claim can result in several favorable remedies for the plaintiff, including recovering back pay, recovering one’s job position, and other types of damages. A qualified Michigan lawyer can provided you more information if there is a legal basis for a claim.
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Last Modified: 09-06-2012 08:47 AM PDT
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