Wrongful firing or a wrongful layoff occurs when an employee is terminated for illegal reasons, or an employer violates their responsibilities outlined in an employment contract. It is essential to differentiate between lawful and unlawful reasons for terminating an employment relationship because this effort helps to clarify the rights and responsibilities of both parties.
While employers have the right to dismiss employees for valid reasons, such as sub-standard performance or business-related decisions, certain actions constitute wrongful termination.
Types of wrongful termination
One of the most common forms of wrongful termination is discrimination. It occurs when an employee is fired due to mistreatment rooted in a protected classification, such as race or sex. Federal and state laws prohibit such discriminatory actions, and employees who believe they were terminated due to discrimination may have grounds for a lawsuit.
Retaliation is another reason that workers experience wrongful termination. If an employee is terminated as a form of retaliation for actions such as reporting workplace harassment, safety concerns or participating in legal activities, that effort is a violation of their right to engage in legally-protected activity.
In cases where an employment contract exists, wrongful termination can occur when an employer violates the terms of the agreement. If the contract stipulates that the employee can only be terminated for cause, and they are fired without justifiable cause, it constitutes a breach of contract.
Consequences of wrongful termination
Wrongful termination can result in severe consequences for both employees and employers. It can lead to costly legal battles, damaged reputations and financial repercussions. Employees who have been wrongfully terminated may seek compensation for lost wages, emotional distress and legal fees. For employers, wrongful termination lawsuits can result in financial losses, damage to their reputation and potential legal penalties.
Employees should be well-informed about the various aspects of wrongful termination so that they can take legal steps to help protect their interests if the need arises. Seeking legal guidance can help to provide this clarity.