When a person other than an employer intentionally interferes with another person's employment relationship and thereby causes the other person to lose his/her job, that interfering person might be liable for the economic losses that result.
What Do I Need To Prove To Sue For Wrongful Interference With Employment Relationship?
The person damaged by the interference (the employee) will usually need to prove the following things in order to sue:
There was an existing employment relationship;
The person who caused the interference was a third party to the relationship (i.e. the relationship was not between the person damaged and the person who interfered);
The third party's conduct interfered with the relationship;
The third party intended to interfere; and
The third party's conduct caused the employee's termination.
In most states, the employee also needs to prove that the third party was not justified in interfering with the employment relationship.
Can I Sue Even Though I Only Have An "At-Will" Employment Relationship?
Yes. An "at-will" employee will still be able to sue for wrongful inference with employment relationship.
What are Some Examples of Wrongful Interference with Employment Relationship?
If the interfering third party was a co-worker, interference may take the following forms:
1. Directly terminating the employee from employment;
2. Complaining about the employee's work performance or attitude to management;
3. Giving unfavorable or negative work performance reviews of the employee's work performance; and
4. Threatening to resign unless the employee is terminated.
If the interfering third party was not a co-worker, interference may take the following forms:
1. Threatening the employer to terminate the employee;
2. Imposing unreasonable burdens on the employer if he/she decides to continue to employ the employee; and
3. Making the employee appear undesirable to the employer.
When Is Interference Justified?
Generally, interference is justified when it is a reasonable and proper means to protect or pursue a legitimate interest. The courts will often look at the following factors to determine whether an act is appropriate:
1. The nature of the interfering party's conduct;
2. The motive behind the interfering party's conduct;
3. The interest the interfering party sought to advance;
4. The relative social value of both parties' interests;
5. The relatedness of the interfering party's conduct to the interference; and
6. The relationship between the interfering party and the employee.
Should I Hire an Attorney Experienced in Wrongful Interference with Employment Relationship?
If you believe you have been terminated from work due to an improper act of another person, an attorney can help you identify your legal rights and your likelihood of recovery. If you have been accused of wrongful interference with employment relationship, an employment attorney can help defend you in court and limit your liabilities.