Have you been fired from your job under what you consider to be unfair circumstances? Whilst employers do have the right to terminate the employment of an employee when they wish to, there are laws in place to protect employees from being discharged in certain situations.
Of course every case is different, but if you think that you have been unfairly discharged from your place of work, read on to find out if you are likely to have a case for wrongful dismissal.
Most employment is considered to be “at will” meaning that an employee may leave or be fired at any time, or for no reason at all – as long as it is legal. There are laws about discrimination, which mean that if it can be proved that employment was terminated due to discrimination, the employer can face serious legal problems.
There are of course exceptions to this, if, for example you have a letter or written contract stating that you can only be dismissed for good course, or for reasons which are set down in your contract. If it states that it will guarantee you continued employment, you might have a case.
There is also the concept of an ‘implied promise’. This is where you might have a verbal contract, you might not have anything written own, but by the employee’s actions and what they say, it is implied that you will be employed permanently, or for a fixed amount of time. Implied contracts can be difficult to prove by their very nature but there are a number of things that the court looks at, including;
- Length of time you have been employed by them
- Assurances of your continued employment
- History of good performance reviews
- Whether promises of long term employment were given
- Whether the employee followed the dismissal procedure
Illegitimate Grounds for Termination
The courts also recognize that there are illegitimate grounds for termination if you are discharged for reasons such as:
- Jury service
- Taking time off work to vote
- Military service
- Taking time off work to serve in the Voluntary Fire service
Discrimination is illegal and regardless of whether you are ‘at will’, you cannot be dismissed on these grounds. Discrimination in terms of unlawful termination includes race, nationality, religion, disability, genetic information, colour, gender, pregnancy or age and you cannot be dismissed for these reasons.
If you feel that your employer has acted unfairly, you might have a case for breach of good faith and therefore unfair termination. Common circumstances include:
- Dismissing or transferring employees to prevent them from sales commissions
- Misleading information about pay increases or promotions
- Playing down certain less attractive aspects of the job
- Dismissing an employee to replace them with someone on lower pay
- Continuously putting an employee in dangerous or unpleasant situations to coerce them to leave without collecting any payments that they would be entitled to
It is important to remember that, whilst the laws in general about wrongful dismissal are uniform, each state also has their own set of laws. This is why it is important that if you feel that you have been wrongfully dismissed from your employment, you seek legal advice and understand what your rights are.