If you have recently lost your job and are wondering if the termination was legally justified, this article contains critical information you need to know. The laws relating to employers dismissing their workers are often complex, depending on the circumstances of your particular situation. In some cases there may not be much you can do, but in other instances you might have a strong legal case against your employer. Here is a closer look at this important issue.
Perhaps the most crucial legal concept relating to labor or employment law is called "at-will." This refers to most employers being able to fire an employee for any reason they wish or even for no reason at all. Although some people feel that this legal principle gives too much power to employers at the expense of workers, the courts have upheld its validity many times over the years.
The at-will concept is not absolute, however. Some important exceptions exist that give employees more power in certain cases.
A written contract might nullify an employer's right to fire a worker for any reason. If you have a signed contract with your employer that limits his ability to terminate you, this contract language will typically be upheld in court. For example, you might have language in your contract that says the company can only fire you for just cause, such as poor job performance or harassing other workers.
In addition to a written contract, you might also claim that you have an implied contract. For instance, if your boss has said that he will only terminate you for certain reasons, a court might find that this oral assurance is an implied contract. If so, then the at-will principle could be disregarded.
Another key exception to at-will employment involves protecting workers from discrimination. The federal government prohibits an employer from firing anyone because of certain characteristics, such as someone's race, gender, religion or age. States might have categories that are protected by state law, such as gender identity, as well.
Your employer may not fire you in retaliation for certain kinds of conduct. For example, if you report safety violations at your place of work to the government, your actions are protected by law. If you have evidence a company terminated you in retaliation for exposing illegal behavior on their part, employment law is on your side.
The complexities of labor law make it difficult for the average person to fight a wrongful termination on their own. The best course of action is to seek expert legal advice from professionals such as those at John H. Haskin & Associates, LLC.