Although many employment relationships are considered “at-will,” meaning that the employee or the employer can end the relationship at any time, it is against the law to end the employment for an illegal reason or in violation of an employment contract. If an employer breaks the law when firing an employee, the worker may have the right to file a wrongful termination claim.
Common examples of wrongful termination involve unlawful discrimination, retaliation and public policy violations. If an employee is terminated because of their race, religion, sex, disability or other protected characteristic, the firing may violate laws against discrimination.
Retaliatory termination is also all too common. An employee cannot legally be terminated for reporting illegal activities in the workplace, harassment, discrimination or for other protected reasons.
Breach of contract
If you have an employment contract, you may have a claim for wrongful termination if your termination violated the contract, also called breach of contract. For example, your contract may outline certain reasons under which you can be terminated. If you are terminated outside of those reasons, you may have a claim.
The contract may also require that you are given a set amount of notice before the termination. If you do not receive this notice or were not paid instead of receiving the notice, it may be wrongful termination.
Also, some employment contracts require that the employer follows several steps before an employee is terminated. These may include giving the employee a warning, an opportunity to complete a performance improvement plan, or in some cases, offering the employee a different position within the company before being terminated.
If your employment law claim is successful, you may receive compensation or other damages from your employer.