Wrongful Termination Laws

There is no Federal “wrongful termination law” per se. Rather there are a variety of Federal laws that, if violated by employers when discharging employees, might constitute wrongful termination. Collectively, such laws are generally called wrongful termination laws or wrongful discharge laws.

It might also constitute wrongful termination if employers violated constitutional provisions, state laws or public policy when discharging employees. The same goes if employers breached legal principles or concepts related to employment.

For example, it might be wrongful termination if an employer discharged an employee:

Additionally, it might be wrongful termination if an employer discharged an employee in retaliation for:

Relevant wrongful termination laws allow victims of employer violations to seek relief by filing complaints with the government agencies that enforce the laws, filing private lawsuits, or both. However, because of the variety of laws, legal principles and legal concepts under which unfairly-discharged employees may have legitimate claims of wrongful termination, such cases can be complex.

For example, in some cases, such as violations of public policy verses specific written laws, there may not be an appropriate state or Federal agency with which to file a complaint. In such cases, only private lawsuits might provide relief.

Additionally, the Doctrine of Employment At Will is so strong in the U.S. that it can make it difficult to prove wrongful termination.

As a case in point, states are allowed to enact wrongful termination laws that essentially weaken the Doctrine. Yet, at last check, only Arizona and Montana had enacted such laws. States may also adopt the 1991 Model Employment Termination Act (META), which requires employers to show good cause for discharging employees under the Doctrine. Yet, at last check, no state had adopted it.

Still, employees who were unfairly discharged under the Doctrine have challenged it in court and won, spawning state exceptions to the Doctrine under common law.

Subsequently, it’s a good idea for an unfairly-discharged employee to seek the advice of a lawyer, if the employee wishes to discover whether or not it might have constituted wrongful termination. Lawyers often take winnable wrongful termination cases on a contingency basis.

It’s also a good idea to seek the advice of a lawyer right away, because a relatively short statute of limitations likely applies for taking legal action.

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