Can a job fire you for no reason? Sometimes, yes. The right to fire at will for no given reason is one many employers in the United States share.
That doesn’t mean there are no restrictions on how and why an employer may terminate an employee. If you were fired for a seemingly questionable reason, your employer may have engaged in wrongful termination. You may be eligible for compensation if so.
6 Situations Where Being Fired May Actually Be Wrongful Termination
There are various situations in which a firing might be an instance of wrongful termination on an employer’s part. Particularly common wrongful termination examples include the following:
- Situation 1: Your Employment Contract Had a “Cause” Clause
- Situation 2: You Engaged / Participated In A Legally-Protected Act
- Situation 3: You Talked About Labor and/or Workplace Issues With Your Co-Workers
- Situation 4: You Were Discriminated Against By Your Employer
- Situation 5: You Were Fired By Your Employer Because Of Your Medical History
- Situation 6: You Were Fired After You Got Back From Taking Legally-Protected Time-Off From Work
The following guide will explain these potential scenarios in greater detail. That said, this isn’t necessarily an exhaustive list of the ways you could be illegally fired. If you believe you’ve been the victim of unlawful termination, but your situation isn’t on this list of wrongful termination reasons, you might still have a case. Speak with an attorney for more information.
Situation 1: Your Employment Contract Had a “Cause” Clause
You are likely an “at will employee” if you work in the U.S. With the exception of Montana, all states in the U.S. qualify as at will employment states.
In an at will state, an employee can leave a job at any time for virtually any reason. This also means that employees can be fired at will—i.e., for almost any reason (or even no reason)—as long as an employer isn’t breaking the law.
That said, some employment contracts have clauses stating employers must demonstrate their reasons for firing employees in certain circumstances. You may have been fired illegally if there was such a clause in your contract, but your employer didn’t abide by it.
Situation 2: You Engaged / Participated In A Legally-Protected Act
Employees have the right (and, arguably, the responsibility) to engage in certain legally protected acts like:
- Reporting unsafe workplace practices to the relevant agencies
- Cooperating with authorities looking into criminal activity on the part of an employer
- Filing complaints or taking legal action if they’ve been the victims of sexual harassment, hostile work environments, etc.
Most states have laws prohibiting employers from terminating employees for engaging in these types of protected acts. If you were fired after engaging in such an act, you may have been wrongfully terminated.
Situation 3: You Talked About Labor and/or Workplace Issues With Your Co-Workers
Have you been terminated from work after having discussions with your coworkers about any workplace issues or concerns that may be bothering you? Some employers elect to fire employees when they learn they’ve been “bad-mouthing” the company to other employees. This is illegal.
Situation 4: You Were Discriminated Against By Your Employer
Employers in the U.S. can’t fire employees simply due to such protected characteristics as:
- Gender identity
- Sexual orientation
Do you think you might have been fired from work for discriminatory reasons? Consider reviewing your case with an attorney for more information about your options.
Situation 5: You Were Fired By Your Employer Because Of Your Medical History
Employers can have more access to medical data than employees may realize. Unfortunately, sometimes employers fire employees after finding sensitive information in their medical histories.
For instance, maybe your medical data indicates you have a somewhat high chance of developing a condition that may result in a disability. An unscrupulous employer might thus engage in illegal firing because they don’t want to have to make accommodations for you in the future if you do develop said disability. Instead, they’d rather illegally fire you before that happens.
Situation 6: You Were Fired After You Got Back From Taking Legally-Protected Time-Off From Work
The types of legally protected time off from work that may be available to you can vary depending on what state you live in. Nevertheless, if an employer fired you after you returned from taking such leave, you may have reason to be suspicious. A less careful employer might even fire you shortly after you submit a request for leave in the first place.
Fired Without Cause or Fired Illegally? Consider Legal Assistance
You may file a claim or lawsuit against a former employer if you have reason to believe they broke the law when they fired you. Wrongful termination settlements can compensate illegally fired workers for such losses as lost wages, mental health distress, and more.
Just be aware that proving an employer’s true reason for firing you is different from their given, legal reason can be a complex task. Luckily, it’s not one you need to handle yourself.
No one can guarantee they will win your case. That said, a lawyer’s expertise could play a significant role in the outcome of yours. Find out more today by taking the Free Case Evaluation to speak with a wrongful termination attorney representing clients like you.