In Arizona, all employees work at-will. This means an employee can be fired at any time and for any reason, or for no reason at all, as long as the reason for the firing is not unlawful.
However, there are some exceptions to the at-will rule. For example, if an Arizona employer fires an employee for discriminatory reasons, a breach of employment contract, or in retaliation for exercising their employee rights, a Arizona employee may have a legal claim against the employer. For discriminatory purposes, Arizona employers cannot discriminate based on race, color, national origin, sex, pregnancy, religion, disability, age, marital status, AIDS/HIV, or sickle cell trait.
Under federal law, employers cannot fire an employee based on a protected characteristic such as race, color, national origin, sex, pregnancy, religion, age, disability, and citizenship status.
On the other hand, being able to terminate an employee at-will does not mean that the employer can break any laws during the firing process. Even in an at-will employment setting, an Arizona employer can be held liable for wrongful termination. The following aspects of employment can create a basis for a wrongful termination or wrongful discharge claim in Arizona:
A wrongful termination claim in Arizona will have a much better chance of success if it can be proven that the employer violated some law or a contract provision. It is not enough to simply argue that an employer acted unfairly in terminating the person.
An Arizona employee may have a workers compensation claim against an employer for if the employer has terminated the employee for any of the following reasons:
If you have a written employment contract promising you a job or job security, you are not an at-will employee. Under Arizona law, implied employment contracts based on clear statements made in an employee handbook by the employer that they have a secured job and cannot be fired for any reason. For example, if your employee handbook states that employees will be fired only for good cause, you may have an implied contract. If you have an employment contract, and your employer fires you without good cause, you have a legal claim for breach of contract.
If the employer breaches this contract and fires you for no reason at all, then you may have a legal claim against your employer for breach of contract.
Wrongful termination claims in Arizona depend on whether all of the facts that led to the termination would create a wrongful termination. If the employer’s motivation in firing the employee was unlawful, then the employee may bring a wrongful termination claim even if the employee is an at-will employee. It can be difficult to see what actions and motivations can give rise to a workers compensation claim. It is often worth consulting with an Arizona employment attorney to determine whether you might have a claim.
Wrongful termination is a confusing area of law and navigating the legal system may be difficult. An employment lawyer can help you determine whether there is a legal basis for a claim, and if so, can help you recover monetary damages.
Last Modified: 05-09-2017 08:39 PM PDTLaw Library Disclaimer
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