In states that have at-will employment, employers can legally fire or dismiss employees for almost any reason or no reason at all.
However, workers may still experience wrongful dismissals if the motive for the termination breaks federal or state employment laws. Employees wrongfully terminated from jobs may pursue charges against former employers as well as compensation.
What is a wrongful termination? Wrongful dismissal is any illegal termination that unjustly punishes or discriminates against an employee. Workers wrongfully fired from jobs are those dismissed for reasons such as discrimination, retaliation or other illegal factors. Employers who wrongfully fired workers because of their race, religion, nationality, sex or age have violated employment laws.
Wrongful termination also occurs when an employer dismisses a woman who becomes pregnant or a worker who files for worker’s compensation.
Former employees may feel they experienced a wrongful dismissal when employers do not give a reason for the termination. However, in at-will states, employers have plenty of legal reasons for firings that may still seem unfair, including giving no reason whatsoever.
If a worker has documented instances of discrimination in the workplace and witnesses who are willing to speak on the worker’s behalf, then wrongful dismissal is most likely involved and the worker has a case.
Workers who feel they have experienced a wrongful termination must know what qualifies as an illegal termination, the exceptions to at-will employment and how to file a discrimination charge in their state.
Find out more about wrongful termination in the following topics.
Learn About Legal and Illegal Terminations
While there are legal reasons for terminating employees, some workers do not realize when they are wrongfully terminated.
When any of the types of illegal termination of employment occur, the business has broken a state or federal law that protects workers.
Illegal reasons for terminating employees can include those that are discriminatory or retaliatory. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) is a federal agency that enforces civil rights for victims of unlawful firings.
What Is At-Will Employment and Exceptions?
Residents wondering, “Is my state an at will state?” will discover all states in the nation recognize at-will employment.
What is employment at will and how does it affect employees? Apart from the exceptions to at-will employment, job opportunities without contracts are voluntary between employers and employees.
However, while all states follow the at-will employment doctrine, there are at will employment exceptions that are different in different states. It is vital for workers to know when wrongful terminations occurs.
Learn How to File a Discrimination Charge
Workers may file a wrongful termination discrimination charge if they believe their former employer violated their civil rights.
Filing a charge of discrimination requires submitting a claim to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), which is the organization that enforces laws on civil rights in the workplace.
In the United States, the EEOC investigates complaints to determine if employers discriminated against employees. It is vital for wrongfully terminated employees to know how to file a charge of employment discrimination before pursuing a civil lawsuit against the business.