The term wrongful termination refers to an employee that is discharged illegally or in a way that violates company policy. If an employee is wrongfully terminated, they may be reinstated to their prior position or entitled to a monetary award from their former employer.
The vast majority of employees working for a company are classified as employed-at-will. This means the employer has the right to terminate an employee without explanation. Executives may have a written contract with their employer, which oftentimes outlines the conditions by which they can be terminated.
Even if a company has the right to terminate an employed-at-will individual, they can still be wrongfully terminated if the employee can prove discrimination or the discharge violated company guidelines or public policy. For example, a collective bargaining agreement may outline a process the company must follow before an employee is discharged. An at-will employee may also be offered some protection through state and federal laws. For example, whistleblowers are protected from adverse action or retaliation by nearly two dozen federal acts.
Employers are also not permitted to discharge employees because of their age, disability, gender, national origin or race. Wrongful termination also applies when an employee is discharged for refusing to commit an illegal act such as committing fraud. Individuals that believe they have been a victim of wrongful termination should seek the counsel of an experienced employment attorney.
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