If you were dismissed from your job without cause, you may have a valid claim of wrongful termination against their employer.
At-Will vs. Contract Employment
The standing of your claim against your employee depends on whether you were an at-will employee or a contract employee. Generally, employers can terminate at-will employees for any reason or no reason at all. However, terminating employees due to discrimination or other illegal reasons is prohibited. Employees who signed an employment contract may have greater protections than at-will employees. However, rules for terminating employees depend on the employer’s company policies and the terms of the contract. Some common termination provisions include:
- Termination only for good cause
- Termination for reasons stipulated in the contract (e.g. failure to meet performance requirements)
- Termination before the contract expires must be agreed to by both parties, etc.
Employers who fail to abide by the provisions of employment contracts will be liable for breach of contract as well as wrongful termination.
Promises of Continued Employment
Even if you are an at-will employee, you may have a case for wrongful termination if you are terminated after receiving promises of continued employment. Promises by the employer of continued employment form an implied employment contract. An implied employment contract must be made by the employer through oral assurances, or by expectations created by employer handbooks, policies, or other written assurances. Evidence that might support your case include:
- Positive performance reviews
- Frequent promotions
- Verbal or written statements concerning a future with the company
Wrongful Terminations Due to Employer Violations
In addition to breaching an employment contract, there are other ways an employer’s action can give rise to a wrongful termination claim. Some of these include:
- Termination of Employee Violates Company Policy: An employee may have a claim for wrongful termination if the employer violated their own policies regarding terminating an employee. For instance, your employer may have failed to give you a warning before firing you. If you have questions regarding your employer’s worker termination policies, please look in the employee manual. You can also look at your employment contract and/or contact human resources.
- Termination of Employee Violates Practices of Good Faith and Fair Dealing: Employers have a general duty to deal with their employees fairly and honestly. For example, employers cannot simply create a fictional cause of action to fire an employee for the purpose of hiring someone else.
- Termination of Employee Violates Public Policy: Public policy represents certain acts that are protected because they serve the general good of the society. For example, employers are not allowed to terminate an employee for taking time off work to serve on a jury, to serve in the military, or for whistle-blowing. Moreover, your employer cannot retaliate against you for filing a claim for worker’s compensation, employment discrimination, or harassment.
Should I Consult an Attorney?
If you think you were wrongfully terminated by your employer, it is best to consult an employment lawyer immediately. A skilled employment attorney can help you evaluate your claim. They may also be able to file the necessary court paperwork, negotiate settlements, and advocate for you in court.