The vast majority of workers in the private sector, approximately 60 million people according to the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) are considered "at will" employees. This means your employment can be terminated for any reason - or sometimes for no reason at all.
There are limits to how far employers can exercise this right, however. Sometimes employers end up firing employees for unlawful reasons. In fact, an estimated 150,000 people are unjustly fired every year. In these situations, you may be able to file a wrongful termination claim against your former employer.
For a wrongful termination claim to be warranted, the reason for the layoff or firing must be illegal in the eyes of the law. Unlawful reasons may include:
- Violations of federal and state anti-discrimination laws
- Violations of oral or written employment agreements
- Violations of labor laws, including collective bargaining
- Retaliation for a complaint or claim against an employer
- Use as form of sexual harassment
Employers found to have wrongfully terminated employees can face a range of penalties, depending on the circumstances. In many cases, this may include payment of damages to the employee based on severance pay, lost wages, unemployment benefits and other financial losses.
If you feel you have been wrongfully terminated from your job, take immediate steps to protect your legal rights. Contact an experienced employment law attorney to assess your situation, explain your options and guide you through the claims process. They also can advocate for you to obtain the best possible outcome to your legal claim.