Although many people feel that their termination was illegal because it was an unfair termination, that is not enough to make it illegal. Nevada’s “at-will” employment system allows for the termination of employees for almost any reason. Employees can also quit at any time without giving a reason. In most cases, unfair termination or more commonly known as wrongful termination occurs only if one of these exceptions applies.
- Contract: An employer and employee must agree to abide by the written contract they have signed. While most employees won’t sign a contract that specifies a time or other terms, they may be bound by a collective bargaining arrangement or an oral agreement with the employer. If they aren’t pre-empted with a disclaimer, terms in an employee handbook, company policies, or practices can create an implied contract about the length of employment and the disciplinary process.
- Bad Faith Discharge: In every employment contract is implied the covenant of good faith & fair dealing. An employer can be held liable for violating this covenant if it has a special trust relationship with the employee or if it intentionally contravenes both the spirit and intention of the contract.
- Discrimination: Employers cannot discriminate against employees based on protected classes, such as race, religion, disability, age, or sex.
Employers cannot retaliate against employees who take action that is important for the public like:
- Whistleblowing: This is reporting illegal or unsafe employer practices to a government authority. An internal report to an employer is not sufficient. The employee must also report illegal activity to a government agency;
- Unsafe Conduct: This is refusing to work in unsafe conditions, which can be interpreted as unreasonably hazardous to an employee;
- Illegal Conduct: Refusing to engage in conduct the employee believes is illegal;
- Workers’ Compensation: Filing a worker’s comp claim;
- Jury Duty is the taking of time to fulfill civic duties, such as jury duty.
Employers can also not retaliate against employees who engage in protected activities such as:
- FMLA leave;
- Participation in “concerted activity”, which is protected;
- Use of a legal product while not on duty;
- Exercise of OSHA rights;
- To file a complaint with either the EEOC or the NERC about employment discrimination;
- To file a complaint about wages and hours of work with a government agency, or internally;
- Participation in an investigation into employment wages, hours of work, or discrimination;
- Being a witness in any judicial, administrative, or other proceeding; or
- Participation in school-related activities that involve their children.
Although there may be some exceptions to this general rule, the ones listed above are the most comprehensive.
What If A Employer Is Unfair
Employers can take many actions that employees may find unfair or unethical. However, if an employer’s actions do not fit within one of the exceptions above it is likely to not be illegal termination. There’s very little chance that a potential case will be filed if it doesn’t fall within one of these exceptions.
What If Your Employer Makes A False Accusation Of An Employee?
False accusations against employees that lead to termination may be unjust and unethical but they are not illegal. False statements made by an employer to another party about an employee can lead to employer defamation.
What Compensations Are Available
A wrongful termination lawsuit can result in monetary damages for lost wages or benefits. There might also be damages for emotional distress. In certain cases, an employee may be entitled to attorney fees or punitive damages.
Working With An Unfair Termination Attorney
If your employer terminated you according to any of the scenarios described above, please contact our office immediately.