Wrongful Termination: Was Your Firing Illegal?

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A lot of people are confused regarding what constitutes wrongful termination. Just because an employee feels he or she was wrongfully terminated does not make it illegal.

Wrongful termination in the legal context involves different factors. In this post, we will highlight what constitutes unfair termination and the legal remedy available to the victim.

Wrongful Termination in the Legal Context

An employer will be guilty of illegal termination if it was in violation of the contractual terms or the federal anti-discrimination laws.

An employee cannot be fired based on gender, race, religion, age, or disability. In addition, an employer cannot terminate an employee in retaliation of whistle-blowing. Firing an employee in these situations is deemed illegal.

What’s Not Wrongful Termination

You should note that apart from firing due to discrimination, employers have the right to terminate an employee for any reason.

According to the ‘employment at will’ doctrine adopted in most US states, employers and the employees are bound only by their voluntary desire to enter into a relationship. Anyone may end the employment at any time without stating any cause.

Mohamed Eldessouky, a distinguished wrongful termination attorney at Eldessouky Law, says: “At-will means that an employer can terminate an employee at any time for any reason, except an illegal one, or for no reason without incurring legal liability.  Likewise, an employee is free to leave a job at any time for any or no reason with no adverse legal consequences.”

However, in some states the ‘good faith and fair dealing’ provision is applicable that prevents an employer from abusing the at-will status of employees.

You should contact a professional employment attorney in your state to find out the specific laws relating to illegal termination.

Making a Wrongful Termination Claim

You can file a case in the court for unjust termination by an employer. Before filing a case, you should understand what exactly is considered unfair termination.

1.     Terminated due to Medical History

Employers are prohibited from terminating an employee due to medical history, as per the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (GINA). For instance, an employer cannot terminate an employee based on the information about genetic predisposition to breast cancer or heart attack.

Employers that fire an employee based on the genetic information or medical history must compensate the employee for illegal termination.

2. Termination Due to Discussing Labor Problems

An employer also cannot fire an employee due to engaging in discussion with a colleague regarding a workplace issue.

According to the National Labor Relations Act, an employer cannot fire an employee for ‘protected concerted activity’. This includes criticizing wages or working conditions at the workplace.

However, you should be aware that the law offers protection to a group of employees discussing how things can be improved. It does not necessarily apply to an individual who vents anger by criticizing the company.

3. Contract Requires a Cause’ for Termination

If the employment contract specifically contains a cause for termination, an employer cannot terminate an employee without a just cause. The cause can include things like continued failure to perform tasks, misconduct, or sharing the company’s secrets. “

Make sure that you contact a professional employment lawyer for cases involving illegal termination. An experienced attorney will provide expert counsel and guidance on how to increase the chances of a successful case outcome.

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