Whenever a potential client calls to discuss a case involving wrongful termination, they ask the same question: “Can my employer terminate me if I’m an at-will employee?”
Below, we will answer this question and help you understand your employment rights as an at-will employee.
What Is At-Will Employment?
In a previous post, we discussed at-will employment, but let’s briefly review the definition again for clarity.
At-will employment means that an employer can terminate their worker at any time, for any reason (as long as it’s not illegal). Likewise, the worker can leave their post anytime, for any reason. In most of these potential firing or quitting situations, no legal action can be taken against either party.
But there are exceptions.
Most notably, it is illegal for an employer to terminate an at-will employee if that termination violates public policy. Naturally, this can be confusing, and it inevitably leads to the question: what exactly violates public policy? So, let’s take a look.
What Type of Termination Could Violate Public Policy?
While many terminations of at-will employees are perfectly legal (your boss doesn’t even need to have a reason to terminate you), in certain situations, even if a worker is an “at-will employee,” they can still be “wrongfully fired.”
Let’s dive into this a little further.
Any terminated employee who refused to break the law or perform statutory obligations may have been wrongfully terminated. Likewise, if you were fired after being denied the ability to exercise your rights and privileges, this could be a wrongful termination. And finally, if you reported a violation of the law and were later fired, you might also have a claim for wrongful termination in violation of public policy.
Here are some other examples of termination in violation of public policy for at-will employees:
– An employee reports sexual harassment to their employer and then gets terminated
– An employee blows the whistle on unsafe work conditions, then gets fired.
– An employee suffers discrimination based on a protected characteristic (their race, for example) and is terminated.
– An employee gets injured on the job and files a workers’ comp claim (exercising their rights and privileges) and then gets terminated.
Above, we’ve listed just a few examples we constantly hear and see with our clients here at Knoll Law Group. There are other situations wherein an employee was wrongfully terminated despite being an at-will worker.
If you have questions about your termination, collecting as many details as possible is essential. These will be useful when discussing your case with an attorney when you decide to organize your case for a lawsuit against your employer.
Were You Terminated in Violation of Public Policy?
Do you have questions about a situation where you feel you were unfairly terminated? Are you wondering whether you might have been terminated in violation of public policy? Give us a call for a free legal consultation.
Knoll Law Group has been around for over thirty years. We are proud to represent individuals whose rights have been violated by their employers, and we’ll fight on your behalf to get you the compensation you deserve.