Wrongful termination, or wrongful discharge, occurs when an employee is fired in violation of the law or an employment contract. Proving wrongful termination in the state of Indiana can be challenging, since Indiana is an "at-will employment" state. This means that either party can end the employment at anytime, and for any legal reason.
Discrimination as Grounds for Wrongful Termination
Wrongful termination claims in an at-will employment arrangement usually involve various civil rights issues. Termination is considered to be wrongful if it violates anti-discrimination or anti-harassment laws. Moreover, the State of Indiana takes employment discrimination very seriously. Discrimination is heavily regulated and there is no statute of limitations (i.e. filing deadline) for workplace disputes involving discrimination.
Unlike other states, Indiana requires private employers to grant 15 days of leave for employees who are in the military. These leave days are for the purpose of allowing the worker to perform their military duties or service. Terminating an employee for taking military leave can also be grounds for wrongful termination.
Public Policy Violations
In addition, a wrongful termination claim can be based on a violation of principles of public policy. An employer can be liable for wrongful termination if they fire an employee for whistle blowing (i.e. reporting misconduct). A violation of a whistleblower law in Indiana is a Class A misdemeanor crime, punishable by fines of up to $10,000.
Also, employees cannot be fired for attending jury duty. If an employee is fired due to jury duty, Indiana will fine the employer up to $1,000 and the employer may be liable for other civil claims brought by the employee.
Remedies for Wrongful Termination
The victim of the wrongful termination may be entitled to a number of remedies, such as receiving back pay, being returned to their job status, and collecting damages for emotional suffering.
Besides the monetary fines, an employer can also be held personally liable for the losses caused to an employee by wrongful termination. This means that if the company cannot pay the monetary fines, then the employer must use his personal bank accounts to pay the fines to the employee.
Consulting an Attorney
A qualified Indiana lawyer can help you determine whether there is a legal basis for a claim. Moreover, he can help you file your claims, represent you in court, and negotiate remedies.