Most U.S. employees are considered at-will employees. The term, “at-will” employment refers to an employer’s right to terminate an employee without cause, at any time and for any reason. However, an employer cannot fire an employee based on any illegal reason, such as discrimination, disability, or retaliation.
Implied and Written Contracts
An employment contract is an agreement between the employee and the employer. Details of the contract are outlined within the agreement, and once the employee signs the contract, it becomes legally binding. If there is no written contract, but there is an oral understanding between the employer and the employee, an implied contract is in place.
Simply, an implied contract is an exception to the at-will employment rule. If your implied contract is for continued employment, and then you were fired despite that contract, you may be able to sue your employer for damages. The court will also look at the terms of your employment, the language within the agreement, and any written or verbal promises of continued or permanent employment.
Types of Wrongful Termination
At-will employment laws may appear to be heavily one-sided, but there are several instances of wrongful termination where an employee can sue the employer:
- Employment discrimination based on any of the Title VII protected classes of the Civil Rights Act of 1964
- Sexual harassment
- Breach of duty in good faith and fair dealing
- Invasion of privacy
- Any violations of the law, such as terminating the employee for her attendance at jury duty, or her compliance with a subpoena
What Do I Need to Do to Sue for Wrongful Termination?
If you are considering suing your employer for wrongful termination, you should first consult an employment attorney. Below are a few steps towards filing a successful claim:
- Determine whether you are an at-will employee;
- Review your employment contract, which should give you insight on what type of employee you are, for what reasons you may fired, and the steps you need to take to file a complaint;
- File a complaint with your human resources department; and
- If your filed complaint does not turn out in your favor, speak with your attorney who, if need be, will be able to push forward with your claim.
Do I Need a Lawyer to Sue for Wrongful Termination?
If you believe that you have been wrongfully terminated from your place of employment, contact an employment attorney as soon as possible. Your attorney will be able to advise you of your rights, help determine your best course of action, and represent your best interests in court.