Wrongful Termination

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Wrongful termination does not mean what most people think it does in our society. The reason for this misconception is that what most people consider unfair treatment in the workplace completely differs from what wrongful termination means in the legal sense. In fact, most labor laws in the United States actually provide employers with more leeway in the treatment of their employees; enough that most workers would be a little surprised at what their employers can get away with.

The reason for this leeway is due to the lack of laws that are in place to protect employees, and what laws that do exist are somewhat out of date in today's workplace. In order for an employee to claim wrongful termination, an employer must actually violate one of these antiquated laws, either state or federal. Just because an employee feels they were unfairly treated or forced to quit does not always mean they were wrongfully terminated by legal standards.

To better understand why it is so legally difficult to prove wrongful termination, you should understand that most states utilize a system of "at will" employment, also known as Employment at Will Doctrine. This term means that employment is voluntary and indefinite for both employees and employers, and that employees may quit their jobs whenever they want, and without consequence, and that employers have the right to terminate employees whenever they want without consequence. However, in some states the employer must provide a reason for the termination.

A general guideline that can be used in determining if you have been wrongfully terminated is to look at the following common forms that courts have historically considered as wrongful termination. The first is discrimination. Employers can not terminate you based on your gender, race, creed, or if you are disabled, just to name a few. Retaliation can also be grounds for a wrongful termination suit. Employers can not terminate you for reporting them to authorities for violating laws; this is often referred to as whistle blowing. They also cannot fire you for refusing to perform an illegal task for them.

Another form is defamation of character, which is a claim not made by employees very often, mainly because it is very difficult to prove that an employer intentionally made slanderous remarks in order to terminate you. Lastly, is the method of constructive discharge. If you have to quit your job because your employer institutes or allows changes in the work place that make working conditions for you unbearable, and if any other reasonable employee would feel compelled to quit under the same circumstances, you may have a case for this form of wrongful termination.

If you think you have a claim for wrongful termination against your employer the best approach to take is to consult an attorney, preferably a labor attorney who specializes in this area. Another option is to file a complaint with the EEOC, a government agency designed to investigate violations of labor law. Regardless of which path you choose, do not wait long in seeking help. Time is of the essence in these sorts of matters and you would not want a court to throw out your claim because you took to long in filing it.


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