If you have been fired from your job, could you challenge the termination on the grounds of “wrongful termination”? While most employment is considered “at will,” employment can be terminated at any time, for any or no reason if the reason of firing is not illegal. Important exceptions to the at-will rule and legal remedies exist that may assist in job retention or enable suing your employer for wrongful employment termination.
With a written contract or statement promising job security, you can strongly argue about not being an at-will employee. If your employment contract confirms about being fired with good cause or for stated reasons in the contract or your offer letter/ written document promises continued employment, you could enforce these promises in court. To determine whether you were an at-will employee, seek legal advice.
Employers cannot fire at-will employees for illegal reasons. Discrimination being illegal and dismissed for race, national origin, gender, religion, age, colour, pregnancy, disability, or genetic information, consult a lawyer immediately as strict time limits and rules apply to such claims. Complaints of discrimination must be filed with a state/ federal agency before you can sue your employer in court.
Laws protect whistle-blowing employees reporting unlawful activities that are against public interest. Some states protect whistle-blowers complaining against employers breaking regulations, laws, or ordinances. Others enable employee protection only upon reporting breaking of labor laws or environmental regulations. Visit the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of the Whistleblower Protection Program for information.
In some cases employer’s actions while firing a worker are wrong and devious that they rise to the level of fraud. Fraud commonly occurs in the recruiting process (promises made and broken) or in the terminal stages of employment (induced to resign). To prove your job loss was fraudulent, you must prove your employer made a false representation, someone in charge knew about it and your employer intended to deceive you as you relied on the representation, and this harmed you. Proving fraud is difficult as the employer should have acted badly on purpose, intentionally tricking you. Good documentation should exist about the false representations made to whom, by what means, how and when.
A defamation lawsuit protects personal reputation and good standing within the community. To prove defamation led to job loss, employment termination or in providing references, the former employer made malicious and false statements harming chances of finding new jobs. If your former employer made false statements against you with malice (and reckless disregard about its falsity) and told or wrote that statement to someone, and harmed you by causing job loss, or prevented an employer from hiring you, there is a case. To win a defamation case, you must prove hurtful words were beyond petty office gossip. Actual defamation has to be based on factual information, and must be false.
Implied Promises, Retaliation, Breaches of Good Faith and Fair Dealing, Violations of Public Policy
An implied employment contract is another exception to the at-will rule as most employers make no promises of continued employment. Courts study implied contracts by employers promising “permanent employment” for specific periods and employment duration, regular job promotions, past performance reviews, and assurances of continuing employment, neglecting giving required warning. Employers cannot retaliate against employees engaged in legally protected activities election officer or volunteer fire-fighter.