Every state in the U.S., except for Montana, has some form of at-will employment. At-will employment means an employer can release you from your career for no reason, with no warning or cause. Job listing service Betterteam estimates that approximately 74 percent of all U.S. workers work in an at-will status. Even though you may be an at-will employee, your employer can still be guilty of wrongful termination. Here are a few examples of when you may need a wrongful termination attorney.
Federal laws protect you from being discriminated against in the workplace. While many people only think of race or gender, discrimination can appear in many different classifications. Some of these include:
- Citizenship status
- Medical status
- Military status
Your employer cannot terminate you for making a reasonable accommodation for your disability.
For example, COVID-19 has highlighted the need to protect employees with high-risk conditions from getting sick. If you fall into this category and request to work from home, your employer cannot fire you for making this request. There are criteria you must meet, including:
- Being able to do your job from home
- Your medical condition qualifying as a disability under the Americans with Disabilities Act
Just because you make the request does not mean your employer must grant it, but they cannot separate you for making it.
Your employer cannot fire you as retaliation for you performing any of the following actions:
- Filing a lawsuit against your employer
- Testifying in court against your employer
- Whistle-blowing, or reporting illegal or unethical activities
- Alleging discrimination
You need to file any complaints against your employer that may result in retaliation with your local Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEO). The EEO office will record the complaint on record in case there is retaliation in the future.
Invoking Your Legal Rights
Numerous legal rights come with any employment. For example, your employer must pay you at least a minimum hourly wage for any work performed and be eligible for overtime compensation in non-salaried jobs.
If you are in any form of the military, your employer must allow you to take military leave as needed. Your leave may be with or without pay, depending on the employer. Your employer cannot force you to take your annual vacation time to cover your military leave time.
Other protected rights within the workplace include:
- Jury duty
- Family Medical Leave (FMLA)
- Workers' compensation claims
If you feel you are a victim of wrongful termination, consider hiring a wrongful termination lawyer. Your lawyer will review your claim and work with you on your case.