Did you know that wrongful discharge can occur even if you are an at-will employee? Employers don’t need a reason to fire you if you are an at-will employee. They can fire you for no reason at all. But, that doesn’t give them the right to fire you, or force you to quit, for prohibited reasons such as discrimination or retaliation. Wrongful discharge is also referred to as “wrongful termination”. If you have been wrongfully discharged, you have legal recourse which may allow you to return to your former position and/or receive compensation for your losses.
What is Wrongful Discharge?
Under federal law, it is illegal for your employer to fire you for certain reasons including:
- Age, gender, race, religion, national origin, pregnancy, or disability
- To avoid making reasonable accommodations for pregnancy or disability
- Reporting illegal activity, including discrimination
- Filing for Workers’ Compensation
- Taking legally protected time off, such as for voting, jury duty, military service, maternity leave, family leave, or medical leave
- Refusal to participate in illegal activity, including participating in safety violations or wage and hour violations
States typically have similar laws and some even go farther. For instance, many states prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.
If you have been wrongfully discharged, the legal action you need to take will depend on the circumstances in your case. Different agencies handle different types of violations. An experienced employment attorney can advise you, help you exercise your legal rights, and help you do it properly so that you can get the remedy you need as quickly as possible and do not make mistakes that could cause you to lose your case.
Please, talk to an experienced employment attorney as soon as possible after you have been discharged.