Employment lawyers constantly hear the question, “Have I been wrongfully terminated?” or “Do I have a case for wrongful termination?” The answer may not be as simple as a yes or a no, depending on your situation. In fact, many people feel they were fired unfairly – and sometimes actually were fired unfairly – but this does not always equate to a wrongful termination. Sounds like an oxymoron, huh? Let’s take a look.
As American workers, many of us are employed ‘at-will,’ which simply means that we can leave our place of employment at any time and we are not required to give a notice to our employers prior to doing so. As an ‘at-will’ employee, your employer is given the same benefits associated with an ‘at-will’ employee, which means not only can you quit at any time, but your employer can also fire you at any time – and for any reason. As a matter of fact, your employer is not even obligated to provide a reason for your termination.
In essence, as an ‘at-will’ employee, your boss may decide to fire you for any number of reasons – you had car trouble and maybe this made you late for work one day, missed work because of an uncontrollable circumstance, etc. So, while these actions of termination may seem unfair, they do not violate employment law. Of course, there are always exceptions to the rule, such as reasonable accommodations, medical conditions, discrimination and more. It is recommended that you speak with an employment law attorney to determine if your case is considered an ‘exception.’
If you were terminated from your position and you feel you were wrongfully terminated, you should do a few things immediately:
• First, request a copy of your personnel file;
• Second, create a record detailing the conversation of your termination that took place between you and your former employer – who was present, the date of the termination, and any other miscellaneous information which could be helpful in your case;
• Third, submit an application for employment benefits;
• Fourth, speak with an employment law attorney as soon as possible to discuss your case.