Losing your job is a tragedy, but most people are incorrect in thinking that there’s nothing they can do about it. There are times when wrongful termination occurs, and you have the right to pursue legal action when that’s the case. So, how can you tell if there has been foul play on your employer’s part? Here’s what you need to know.
At Will Employment
Across the country, states allow business to maintain employees at will. That means you are free to leave your job at any time for any reason you choose. It also means that an employer can fire you for any reason, good or bad, or no reason at all.
That does not allow employers to fire their employees under illegal circumstances, such as discrimination. It also does not always stop your ability to collect unemployment. These distinctions are made both federally and on a state-by-state basis, making it imperative that you seek legal counsel to determine your next steps.
Even if you are an at will employee, that status does not supersede any written promises your employer has made. If you were promised job security in a document and your employer went back on their word, then you are entitled to file a wrongful termination claim.
A contract may also state that you must be fired for a good cause, specific reasons stated in the contract, or make a promise about continued employment. If any of those are violated by your employer, you should hire a wrongful termination attorney.
The Implied Promise
Agreements bases on your employer’s actions and spoken words are considered implied promises. Attorneys routinely win cases where companies verbally stated permanent or continued employment for specific periods of time. Instances where progressive discipline is stated but an employee was fired before termination was reached also count.
Implied promises can be difficult to prove in court, however. You often need to show a history of promotions or raises, positive performance reviews, or that your employer failed to follow through with the correct disciplinary actions. All of these are used by lawyers in combination with your employer’s words to prove their fault during trial. Speaking from experience here, adds Common Cents Mom.
Fair Dealing and Good Faith
Your fight for wrongful termination can also include breaches of good fait or fair dealing. These include fabricating reasons for firing you, transferring you to prevent you from collecting sales commissions, or misleading you about promotions and wage increases. Placing you in remote or dangerous areas in attempt to get you to quit also count as breaches. Not all states recognize these exceptions, however.
There are a number of other times when wrongful termination occurs. Each of these are state-dependent, meaning that not all courts recognize them. You should ask an attorney about which routes you can pursue for your case.
- Violation of public policy – Termination that is illegitimate in the public’s opinion.
- Retaliation – When an employer fires you for engaging in legally protected activities.
- Fraud – Inducing an employee to resign or making false promises during the hiring process.
- Defamation – When an employment makes false or malicious claims about you.
- Whistle-blower violations – Termination for reporting illegal or harmful activity.