Even if you were hired on an at-will basis, you may still be able to bring a claim if you were fired wrongfully. There are grounds for wrongful termination that allow you to sue your employer if you were fired for an illegal reason. Here’s what they are and what your rights are if you’ve been wrongfully terminated.
One of the most common grounds for wrongful termination is firing an employee for being part of a protected class. Protected classes include things like race, religion, and gender. Federal civil rights laws outline the protected classes, and some state and federal governments have added protections that go beyond federal law. The purpose of these laws is to prevent discrimination. Even when an employer claims the termination was for a non-protected reason, an employee may still have a claim if they can prove that wasn’t the real reason for the firing.
Other grounds for wrongful termination include retaliation for things like taking union action or becoming a whistleblower. These are statutory protections, and the employee must follow the letter of the law to receive them. For example, a whistleblower might be required to first bring the issue to management and then privately report it to governmental authorities if management doesn’t resolve it. If the whistleblower went to the press instead, they wouldn’t be protected. Like protected classes, these wrongful termination protections might fall under federal, state, or local law.
Wrongful termination can include things that fall short of an actual firing. For example, if an employer drastically cuts an employee’s hours, creates a work environment designed to get them to quit, or takes other adverse action, that may be considered a wrongful termination. To be a wrongful termination, the action would have to target an employee or a specific group of employees. If the company was doing poorly and reduced each employee’s hours equally, there likely wouldn’t be a claim. By contrast, even if the company was doing poorly, it couldn’t use that as cover to take action against a protected employee.
To learn more about if you have grounds for wrongful termination, contact one of our experienced employment attorneys online or by calling 702-259-7777 today.