Understanding What Wrongful Termination Is – And What it Isn’t
Written by Cooper & Friedman PLLC on June 25, 2018
As an employee, it’s always a good idea to fully understand your legal rights as well as what is and isn’t allowed at work.
While there are many public policies set in place to protect an employee from being discriminated against, both Kentucky & Indiana are at-will states. This means that unless an employee is contractually obligated or in a union agreement, neither party holds a legal obligation to one another. At-will states view employee and employer relationships as completely voluntary. Thus an employee can leave or be fired for any reason, or no reason at all.
Understanding Wrongful Termination
There are of course a few exceptions, and that’s where wrongful termination comes into play. Federal law dictates that an employee cannot be fired on the basis of their sex, race, religion, age, disability, color, or ethnic origin. This is outlined in Title VII, the Age Discrimination Act, and the Americans with Disabilities Act. Whistleblower laws also prohibit termination as a means of retaliation for employees who have reported any misconduct by their employer.
Furthermore, one cannot be let go from their position of employment because of genetic information, a pregnancy, refusing to break the law, or organizing a union. Employees also cannot be fired for having to vote, serve jury duty, or report to the Military or National Guard.
Wrongful Termination or Unfair Dismissal?
An employee may experience termination for what is deemed a harsh, unjust, or unreasonable reason. While the explanation behind firing an employee may be unethical, that doesn’t necessarily deem it illegal. Being let go for one’s personality or appearance for example, is called an unfair dismissal. This is because it seems unfair to the employee but doesn’t exactly violate any laws.
What qualifies as wrongful termination versus unfair dismissal varies state to state. For instance, some states have laws protecting an employee from being fired due to their sexual orientation. Others cover basic free speech, giving an employee the freedom to vocalize political opinions without backlash.
Pursuing Legal Action
If an employee has an enforceable contract or union agreement, they could receive compensation for being wrongfully fired. This is also the case if an employee’s termination violated Federal and or State employment laws. Said employees should contact a lawyer who can gather evidence and speak on their behalf. Determining wrongful termination is a complex state and time specific issue. To ensure that all the necessary requirements are met, consult the Cooper & Friedman Law Office today before filing a complaint.
If you are employed by a company that is located in Kentucky or Southern Indiana and you feel that you have been wrongfully terminated from your position, contact Cooper & Friedman Law Office today. With over 40 years of combined experience in the field of wrongful termination compensation, we have the expertise to take your case on and fight for you to get compensated. Contact us today for a free case consultation by visiting us online or calling 502-459-7555.