Almost all 50 states in the union follow the at-will doctrine of employment. This means that an employer or employee can terminate the employment relationship at any time, for any reason, and without fear of legal consequences.
That being said, wrongful termination does exist and is prohibited by the law. Many companies have turned to changing the language in contracts and handbooks, as well as providing severance packages to terminated employees, in an effort to avoid high legal fees and court costs as a result of wrongful termination lawsuits.
If you or someone you know believes they have been a victim of wrongful termination, contact an experienced employment lawyer in New York immediately.
The Definition of Wrongful Termination
Wrongful termination occurs when an employer terminates the employee and this act violates one or more terms of the employment contract (if one is in place), or a statute or provision in the applicable employment law. It is one of the most common labor claims in the United States.
The scope of wrongful termination is dependent upon the terms of the employment and the jurisdiction. The absence of a formal employment contract, however, does not necessarily preclude a wrongful termination.
Signs of Wrongful Termination
While there is no single wrongful termination law in the United States, New York state and federal laws help to define wrongful termination.
How do you know if you have been wrongfully terminated? Below are five telltale signs that you may have been terminated wrongfully.
- You’ve been discriminated against: Federal and state law prohibits an employer from terminating (or refusing to hire) an individual based on age, religion, race, sex, pregnancy, nationality and in some jurisdictions sexual orientation.
- You’ve been retaliated against: An employer cannot terminate an employee in retaliation for filing a claim of discrimination or participating in an investigation for discrimination.
- You’ve refused to commit a criminal act: An employer is prohibited from firing an employee for refusing to commit an act that is illegal.
- You’ve refused sexual advances: Whether the act was verbal or physical, an employee who refuses to tolerate sexual harassment cannot be terminated for this reason.
- Termination procedures were violated: Generally, employers have a handbook or company policy that outlines the required procedure that must be followed prior to terminating an employee; if this procedure was not followed, a wrongful termination claim may exist.
There are several other signs that may prove a wrongful termination has occurred, including whistle-blowing violations, fraud by the employer, and even violations of public policy.
Know Your Rights When it Comes to Wrongful Termination
If you or someone you know believes they have been the victim of wrongful termination – or has experienced any other type of employment discrimination – contact the knowledgeable and aggressive attorneys at Levine & Blit, PLLC right away.
Learn your rights under the law, and get the protection you deserve. Contact our office today to schedule your initial case evaluation.