From time to time, things may happen in Minnesota residents’ lives that just do not feel right. This is often how a legal case gets started, as someone feels they have been wronged by another person, even if they cannot fully explain the legal basis for the suit.

In the employment context, it is common for employees to be terminated from a company without understanding why the decision was made. Employees may have some recourse by requesting a truthful reason from the employer as to why the employee was terminated. Minnesota law recognizes the employee’s ability to make such a request, and imposes requirements on the employer to provide a reason to the employee.

It is also common for employees to rightfully believe that their termination was not the result of legitimate reasons. While Minnesota is an at will state — meaning the employee can be fired for any reason at any time — even a termination at will cannot be for unlawful reasons. For example, the employee cannot be fired because of discrimination based on race, creed, color, sex, national origin, ancestry, religion, age, disability, sexual orientation or marital status.

While these issues form grounds for a discrimination lawsuit, there may be other actions by the employer that can result in legal liability. For example, if an employee has a contract with the person’s employer, and the employee’s contract is terminated in violation of the terms of the agreement, the employee may have a cause of action to assert. This is because the contract takes the employment relationship out of the typical at will position, and gives the employee certain rights, as provided by contract. Therefore, the employer may not breach the contract by ending the employment in a manner contrary to the termination provisions of the agreement.

Ultimately, there may be multiple bases of a wrongful termination lawsuit. The specific claims at issue will depend on the facts and circumstances of each case.

Source: Minnesota Department of Labor & Industry, “Labor standards – frequently asked questions about termination,” accessed on April 30, 2016