Employee’s Rights against Wrongful Termination
Wrongful termination, discharge or dismissal are situations wherein termination of an employee from work violates not only the provisions of the employment law, but also the terms that are stipulated in an employment contract. All employees in the U.S. are protected by the Employee Rights against wrongful termination. These rights are based on:
Statutory Rights: these are mandated by the state or federal government and require an advance notice of the closure of or a facility or sizeable lay-offs (due to retrenchment), provision of unemployment insurance and protection through anti-retaliation and anti-discrimination laws;
Company Policy: states the provision of severance payment in case of company lay-offs; and,
Contract Rights: an employee’s individual contract with his/her employers which may be sheltered by a union/collective bargaining agreement.
If, despite these rights, an employee sees foul play in losing his/her work, then the Wrongful Termination Law can be used to determine whether the termination was legal. The Wrongful Termination Law also provides possible remedies in cases of wrongful removal from work.
The usual reported causes of wrongful termination include discrimination, retaliation, refusal of employee to perform an illegal act (at the command of the employer), failure of employer to abide by the company’s policies on termination procedures and whistle blowing or complaining.
Besides wrongful termination, there are two other means used by employers to terminate an employee:
Constructive dismissal –a voluntary decision (by the employee) to quit from work arrived at due to the unbearable working conditions at the doings of the employer. These conditions may take the form of unconstructive changes in work and/or pay, harassment and/or discrimination.
This voluntary resignation may be legally compared to wrongful discharge; the employee only needs to prove that he/she has quit work due to a breach of contract by the employer. The Employment Rights Act of 1996 states that any employee, who ends his/her employment contract due to the employer’s conduct, may be considered as illegally dismissed.
The “Employment at Will” Doctrine – simply means that any employee may be dismissed (even without notice) or can resign from work any time even without valid reason/s. There are circumstances, though, which will render this doctrine not applicable, such as if the employee is covered by a contract of employment, a company policy that provides termination procedure or a collective bargaining agreement.
According to the law firm Williams Kherkher, no employer has the freedom to fire employees for discriminatory reasons, such as race, gender, sexual orientation, and religion. There are many protections in place for employees, thus, employees who feel that they were fired unjustly, may hold their employer accountable for violating employment law.