In many situations, employers have a large amount of leeway when it comes to their employees. Employees can decide when they want people to work, who they're going to hire, what people will do on-the-job and more. With these large freedoms, individuals may think that employers have the ability to fire people for any reason.
Generally, employers have the ability to fire employees at will. An at will employee can be fired for any reason, or no reason at all. Employers are not obligated to explain their rationale or have a reason for terminating someone. However, there are exceptions to this rule.
A termination can be wrongful in a variety of situations. There are limits on when and for what reason an employee can be terminated. In particular, there are five times when a termination becomes wrongful. First, if an employer fires someone in retaliation for that employee's complaints against the employer, the termination may be wrongful. In other words, employees cannot be fired in retaliation for whistleblowing and similar behavior.
Additionally, employees cannot be fired in violation of labor laws and collective-bargaining rights. Third, it is wrongful to terminate employee when employment agreement is in place and it does not provide for the termination. Employers must follow written and oral employment agreements.
Fourth, a termination can be wrongful when the firing is a form of sexual harassment. Finally, if a person is fired in violation of discrimination laws, then the termination is wrongful. This includes violations of all state and federal laws preventing employers from using a person's age, race, religion and other characteristics as a basis for the termination.
Employers have large amounts of freedoms when it comes to their employees. However, there are distinct times when employers cannot terminate an employee. If employer violates these rules, employees may have legal rights under both state and federal employment laws. An attorney can help to give specific legal advice in wrongful termination cases.