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Wrongful Employee Termination

Every state has its own laws that govern employment relationship. However, every state prohibits unlawful termination based on race, religion, sex, national origin, age, or disability. Some states have specific statutes prohibiting certain kinds of discrimination not covered by federal law; for example, those with respect to sexual orientation or marital status.

Employers cannot terminate an employment relationship in retaliation against whistle-blowing (reporting illegal activity of the employer). For example, if the employer directs a worker to violate any law, ordinance, regulation, or statute, the employer cannot legally fire that employee for refusing such a directive. They also cannot discriminate against an employee for engaging in other protected activities, such as filing workers' compensation claims. If, after perceiving it as a violation of the law, the employee complains about (for example) the late-payment of wages, failure to pay overtime, or workplace safety issues, and is fired in retaliation, that would also constitute an actionable claim for wrongful termination.

Unlawful termination

  • If the employee has an employment contract, then he or she must be terminated in accordance to the contract. If they have been terminated in violation of the contract, the employee has a case of wrongful termination.
  • If the employee has been dismissed because she is pregnant, she has every right to question the employer on being unlawfully terminated and she can put forward her complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).
  • If the employee has been discharged because he or she has followed the law of the state and had refused to lie, the employee has a strong case of unlawful termination.
  • If the employer has dismissed an employee because he or she has requested their rights under Family Medical Leave Act, then the employee has full rights to complain of unlawful discharge.
  • Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) protects an employee over the age of forty from being unlawfully discharged because of age.
  • If the employee’s employment was terminated because of filing worker’s compensation, then the employee should protest such illegal termination practice followed by the employer.
  • It may also amount to unlawful termination, if the employer retaliates and fire employees for asserting their rights under the state and federal anti-discrimination laws.
  • If the employee was fired because he or she complained to OSHA about unsafe working condition, it amounts to unlawful termination by OSHA.
  • If the employee’s employment has been terminated because of his or her alien status, then the employee might have been unlawfully dismissed, the Federal Immigration Reform and Control Act (IRCA) prohibits most employers from terminating any employee as long as that employee is legally eligible to work in the United States.

Most of the employment in the U.S. is “employment at will.” It implies that the employee can be fired for any reason, even an unfair reason, or for no reason at all. It also means that the employee can quit for any reason or no reason at all. Generally, it does not matter whether the reason given for the termination was fair or unfair. If fired employees feel that their termination was illegal, they may seek the advice of an attorney to find out where they stand with respect to their state’s law.

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