Job security is a major issue for most people. Anyone in Texas who lost a position, or even just witnessed someone else lose a job in the recent Great Recession knows how devastating it can be.
The experience is harsh and leaves many with a bitter taste in the mouth. Indignation and feelings of unfair treatment are common and, frankly, understandable. But that doesn't make the termination wrongful. For a claim of wrongful termination to hold water, it is necessary for the plaintiff to be able to show that the discharge occurred for one of several illegal reasons. Read on to learn more.
Federal and state laws exist to prevent employers or government agencies from firing employees for certain reasons. In broad terms, those reasons fall into a number of categories – discriminatory, retaliatory, or if they violate terms of an employment contract. It's important to note that terminations can be illegal if they violate these standards, whether you are an "at will" employee or not.
What can make a firing discriminatory is if it resulted due to any of the following reasons:
- Country of origin
- Mental or physical disability (this might include medical conditions related to a pregnancy)
- Religious affiliation
Age discrimination might be an issue if you are 40 or older and lose your job to someone younger. Some laws also prohibit firing based on sexual orientation.
Under the retaliation heading, employers can't fire you for the following:
- Asserting your rights as defined by state or federal law
- Complaining about unequal pay for equal work based on gender
- Filing a formal complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission
- Involvement in a wage and hour violations probe
- Blowing the whistle on suspected illegal employer activity or policies
Many states also prohibit retaliatory actions against you for taking time to vote, serve on a jury or fulfill military service obligations.
If you've suffered wrongful termination, you can be pretty sure the official record won't reflect any illegal reasons for the action. To protect your job security, your livelihood and your reputation, consult experienced legal counsel about your case.
Source: FindLaw, "Wrongful Termination Laws: Illegal Reasons," accessed Sept. 22, 2016