Wrongful Job Termination – What You Should Know

If your employer has given you a pink slip, does it make you entitled to challenge your service termination? This article is meant to shed light on the issue.

Termination of job is a common issue at the workplace. The question is if the termination is justified in the eyes of law. Most employment is based on “At Will” rule, which implies that an employee might be sacked anytime and for any or no reason at all (only if the reason is not illegal). However, there are some significant exceptions to the rule, which will help you get your job back or sue your ex-employer for wrongful termination.

Written Promises

If you have signed a written statement or contract that guarantees your job security, you can put forward a strong argument that your employment is not done as per at-will laws. For example, if your employment contract clearly mentions that you can be sacked only for valid reasons or, your offer letter or written document promises continued employment, you will be able to enforce the statements in court.

Implied Promises

An implied employment contract refers to an agreement based on what your employer promised and followed. It is an important exception to at-will employment rule. It is not easy to prove because most employers usually don’t make written promises of their employees’ continued employment. But implied contracts contain promises of “permanent employment”, employment for a certain period of time or where employers are specific about forms of progressive discipline in their employee manual.

The court considers several factors to ensure existence of an implied employment contract and these include the followings:

  • Duration of Employment
  • Regularity of Your Job Promotions
  • History of Positive Reviews of Your Performance
  • Assurance of Your Continued Employment
  • If your employer fired you by violating a normal employment practice (for example, if he or she fails to issue a required warning to you), or
  • If your employer promised long-term employment in writing when hiring you.

What if Good Faith is Breached and Fair Dealing is not Meted out?

Against unfair dealing by your employer, you have a claim for breach of good faith as well as fair and square dealing. Courts assess the following points to judge if duty of good faith and fair dealing was breached:

●       Transferring or sacking employees to prevent them from receiving sales commissions

●       Providing wrong information to the employees or keeping them in dark about the chances of wage hike and promotions

●       Offering fake reasons for firing an employee to cover the real intention of replacing the person with someone who is willing to work at lower wage

●       Soft-peddling the harmful aspects of a certain job (for example, the need for frequent travel at night) and

●       Repeatedly harassing an employee by transferring him or her to remote, hazardous or otherwise unsafe places in order to indirectly force the person into resigning without collecting severance pay or other work-related benefits

Not all courts recognize “Good Faith and Fair Dealing” as an exception to at-will employment. Some states even require existence of a valid contract before employees can sue the employee for a breach of “good faith and fair dealing”. Talk to an experienced Springfield employment law attorney to discuss your case and what viable options you have to proceed.