Is this a Wrongful Termination Legal Case in Kentucky? An Overview & Examples
Written by Cooper and Friedman on October 6, 2017
The United States of America does a pretty good job protecting its citizens from being wrongfully terminated. Federal law makes it illegal for an employer to fire someone they’ve hired based on certain characteristics that are protected from discrimination. Those protected characteristics include, but are not limited to:
- Race and skin color
- National origin or status of citizenship
- Sex and/or gender
- Religious beliefs
- Age (the employee has to be over 40)
- Having a disability or being pregnant
However, like most federal laws, there are also laws regarding wrongful termination that are determined on a state-by-state basis. Employees in Kentucky, like many other states, work at will. At will means that at any time, for any reason or no reason, an employee can be fired. However, there are exceptions to this rule including being fired for a discriminatory reason that is a protected characteristic. Other exceptions include a breach of contract on the employer’s end, employers reacting to employees having issues with hours and wages, or having differing stances over requests for time off. If an employer fires an employee for any of these reasons, the employee may have legal grounds to file a wrongful termination legal case.
The instances listed above are common legal grounds for wrongful termination cases in the state of Kentucky. However, this is not a full list of Kentucky employment rights and there are unique situations not highlighted above that could stand up in court as a case for wrongful termination. Examples of wrongful termination cases in Kentucky range from textbook to extremely unique and will give employees an idea of what constitutes as wrongful termination in the Commonwealth.
Examples of Wrongful Termination Legal Cases in Kentucky
MacGlashan v. Cumberland Hall Hospital
In 2014, a woman named Margaret MacGlashan filed a wrongful termination case against Cumberland Hall Hospital. MacGlashan alleged that she was terminated because she prepared a report on a medication error made by the hospital. MacGlashan was complying with KRS Chapter 216B which broadly regulates health care services, including facilities, in Kentucky. An amendment in KRS Chapter 216B both protects employees who report unsavory work conditions and forbids employers to retaliate against said employee. MacGlashan claimed that Cumberland Hall Hospital violated this amendment when they fired her. The KY Supreme Court ruled in favor of MacGlashan and, as a result, ordered the hospital to pay her compensation for her lost hours.
Smith v. Norton Healthcare, Inc.
Floyd Smith of Louisville, KY filed a wrongful termination case in 2015 against Norton Healthcare, Inc. after he was accosted by a hot dog vendor on hospital property. Smith says he was fired as a result of the altercation despite a public policy that protects persons who act in self-defense. Norton, in response to Smith’s claim, filed a request for dismissal on grounds that there was no way to compensate the damages Smith allegedly suffered. The Commonwealth of Kentucky Court of Appeals sided with Norton Healthcare, Inc. on this case and consequently granted dismissal.
Hill v. Kentucky Lottery Corp. (KLC)
In the case of Hill vs. the Kentucky Lottery Corp., a public policy exception occurs. This case entered court in 2010 and the plaintiffs were a husband and wife employed by KLC. However, this case gets somewhat confusing because neither of the Hill party were the victim of the cited discrimination. The discriminated party was, in fact, a co-worker at KLC who was terminated. The Hill party claimed that KLC approached Mrs. Hill and instructed her to commit perjury and lie on the stand in regards to the abilities of the terminated coworker.
After Mrs. Hill refused to cooperate, the HIlls claimed they were harassed regularly at work. This led to the lawsuit the Hills filed against KLC for wrongful discharge and retaliation in violation of public policy. Two trials both concluded in favor of the Hills and they were rewarded substantial sums of money.
In these different instances, employees believed they were wrongfully terminated from their jobs for various reasons. The decisions of the court vary from case to case; however, these examples provide an overview of the grounds for wrongful termination cases.