Employment Law – Disadvantages of a Wrongful Termination Policy
Wrongful terminations are the unlawful termination of an individual for illegal purposes or against his will. Wrongful termination occurs when an employer wrongfully fires an employee for any reason or illegal behavior. However, it may also happen when an employee is dismissed for reasons that do not amount to an illegal act. An employee can also be unfairly dismissed for just exercising freedom of speech or for engaging in an activity that is protected by the first amendment. The following are the main causes of wrongful termination.
At-Will Employment: If there is no legal reason for the employee’s firing
it does not necessarily mean that the employer violated the employment contract. Similarly, if there is no contract, at-will employment can only be violated if there are facts that would make it impossible for an employer to fire the person. In most states, wrongful termination laws differ from state to state, but in most cases, an employer must have a justifiable reason for terminating an employee. In addition, wrongful termination violates company policy if the employment contract itself doesn’t provide for it.
Absence of an Employer’s Liability: An employee who has been illegally terminated
cannot claim retaliation as a reason for his firing. Similarly, if there are no lawful reasons for a termination, an employee cannot bring a lawsuit against his employer based on wrongful termination. If there is an argument that the firing violates a legally binding agreement, such an argument would fail if it can be proven that the agreement was executed lawfully. In the case of an at-will employee, the employer may simply argue that the law doesn’t apply to wrongful termination. In such a case, it is better to settle out of court.
Litigation: If an employee finds out
that he has been subjected to unlawful termination, he has the right to bring a lawsuit under any state’s wrongful termination laws. Under at-will employment states, employees are allowed to bring lawsuits against their former employers only if there is concrete proof of discrimination. Under other at-will employment states, employers are presumed to be innocent until proven guilty. However, employers will still be required to prove that they did not know about the discrimination and that they did not discriminate against the applicant based on that fact. In other words, it is very difficult for an employee to win a lawsuit under at-will employment states.
Relevant Circumstances: State laws may also impose other conditions
such as exorbitant severance pay, which may make wrongful termination harder to prove. For example, if an applicant is fired after he quits or is fired for filing complaints regarding poor working conditions, he will have difficulty collecting monthly unemployment compensation. Similarly, if the employee is fired for causing a traffic accident, he will not be able to collect damages for personal injury because the accident was caused by the employer’s negligence.
Even if an at-will employee is terminated for reasons
that are considered wrongful, he needs to be informed about the situation. He must be made aware of the rights to raise issues in court and must also be given notice that he is being subjected to wrongful termination. If you feel that you have been fired for reasons that do not comport with public policy, you should contact an experienced workplace law attorney to find out if your rights were violated.