Understanding Wrongful Termination


Being let go from a position is challenging under any circumstances. While employers have a right to terminate employees under legitimate grounds, wrongful termination is a concern that many face. The complexity of these cases often means the reasons are murky, leaving employees searching for answers. Recognizing and understanding wrongful termination is the first step to seeking justice. Our friends at Cohen & Cohen break down five prevalent forms of wrongful termination below.


1. Discrimination

The U.S. has comprehensive protections against employment discrimination. Yet, there are instances where organizations, either unintentionally or intentionally, fall afoul of these regulations. Discrimination in the workplace is multifaceted. Biases can arise from various sources, most notably:

  • Race or ethnic background
  • Sexual orientation or gender identity
  • Gender and gender expression
  • Religious beliefs and practices
  • Age classifications
  • Physical or mental disabilities

Despite legal frameworks, these forms of discrimination persist, sometimes discreetly, in hiring, promotions, and terminations.

2. Retaliation

Modern labor laws are designed to act as a robust shield for workers, guarding them against retaliatory actions from their employers. These protections extend to cover employees who file complaints, whether related to alarming workplace misconduct, various forms of harassment, or other policy infringements. However, despite these measures, the protective shield isn’t always foolproof. Unfortunately, employees may still face undeserved backlash from not just superiors, but also from colleagues or upper management. In situations where retaliation escalates to the point of job loss, it becomes important for the affected employees to assert their rights and proactively seek our representation.

3. Public Policy Violations

Sometimes, an employer might terminate an employee for reasons that go against the broader public interest. Discharging employees for taking legally mandated leaves or for refusing to engage in illegal activities is a glaring example. If you’ve faced termination for standing up for what’s legally or ethically right, it’s a clear breach of public policy.

4. Constructive Discharge

In certain scenarios, employers might resort to making the workplace so intolerable that the employee feels compelled to resign. This indirect method is a strategy to avoid direct firing. Creating hostile conditions, cutting hours without reason, persistent unwarranted negative feedback, or any actions making daily work unbearable can be grounds for a claim.

5. Contract Breaches

Contracts serve as binding agreements between employees and employers. They stipulate the terms of engagement, including termination grounds. If you’re terminated in ways that contravene these agreed terms, it’s a clear breach. While explicit written contracts are common, implied contracts, often based on verbal agreements or company customs, also hold legal weight. Given the intricacies of contractual language, consulting an attorney is always advisable.

Facing wrongful termination is more than just losing a job, it’s an infringement of rights and can have profound psychological impacts. Whether you believe you were targeted or you were part of a broader strategy, it’s essential to stand up against unjust practices. An employment discrimination lawyer can be your ally, guiding you through the complexities and helping you secure the justice you deserve. With the right legal assistance, you can navigate the maze of employment laws and ensure that your rights as an employee remain protected.