Can You File A Wrongful Termination Suit In An At-Will State?

Many U.S. states are at-will employment states. This means that your employer doesn't need a reason to fire you, nor do they need to provide advanced notice when terminating your employment. However, this doesn't mean you have no legal recourse if you suspect that your employer fired you for an illegal reason. An employment law attorney may advise you regarding whether you have grounds to file a wrongful termination lawsuit.

Were You Fired Because of Discrimination?

It is against the law for employers to fire workers based on their race, nation of origin, religion, sex, or marriage to someone of a certain race or religion. These characteristics and others are protected under the Civil Rights Act, so termination even in at-will states is not allowed based on these reasons. If you suspect that your employer fired you against the law, ask an attorney about how to file a claim with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, which is the first step in pursuing a lawsuit.

In addition, it is not permissible for your employer to fire you for reporting harassment based on discrimination at the workplace. This falls under the umbrella of retaliation. Workers are protected from retaliation, so if you reported another co-worker or even your boss to HR for discriminatory behavior and were fired shortly thereafter, your employer's actions may be illegal.

Did Your Employer Violate Your Contract?

Even in at-will states, some employers sign contracts with employees outlining the specific conditions that must apply for employment to be terminated. For example, a contract may specify that an employee can only be fired for illegal conduct, poor job performance, or another valid reason. If you met all the terms of your employment contract, but your employer fired you for an invalid reason or no reason at all, then you may have grounds to file a lawsuit based on breach of contract.

How Can You Prove Your Wrongful Termination Suit?

As any employment law attorney will tell you, the most important factor in proving your wrongful termination lawsuit is evidence. If you experience discriminatory behavior at work, such as being passed over for a promotion because of your race or being subject to rude comments based on your gender, be sure to keep a detailed account of these incidents. You and your attorney can also work to obtain witness statements that will support your claim. If your co-workers supply convincing statements that your employer fired you because of a protected characteristic, or if they can back up your claim that the employer breached your contract, then you might win your lawsuit.

Reach out to a local employment lawyer to learn more.