What You Should Know About Wrongful Termination

The worker's arena today is quite frenzied today, trying to file claims and lawsuits against employers who have been discharged from their jobs without cause. When these happens, stakes for claims are relatively costly, as these would usually include punitive and moral damages, back pay, and attorneys fees. That is why it's best for both employers and employees to be best informed about current employment laws.

In the area of employment, there is a certain doctrine called employee-at-will, which is followed in most US states. Under this doctrine, an employee may be terminated at any time with or without any justifiable cause. But the judicial system in recent times have created exceptions and brought some new understanding with regarding this rule which will limit the capacity of an employer to terminate an employee without cause.

When an employee is fired because he exercised a legal right or a public policy, a case of wrongful termination can be presumed. For instance, an employee cannot be terminated on the grounds of refusal for a particular employer's instruction (forgery, false witness against another employee, perjury, etc.). Another good example is that when an employer fires an employee because he filed a worker's compensation claim. Overall job performance of the employee may not have any bearing at wall in a wrongful termination case.

Another exception to the employment-at-will rule is the breach of contract, whether expressly verbose in paper or implied. Employment contracts usually constitute following certain specific procedures on termination of an employee, as outlined on employee manuals or handbooks. If an employer has failed to follow termination procedures as stated on the handbooks distributed to the employees, then it was said that a breach of contract has occurred.

Usually, employee handbooks have sections on employee code and conduct as well as guidelines regarding implementing disciplinary actions that may include termination. If the employee's claims are based on the employer's not following of the right procedures in imposing disciplinary actions (in the case of firing an employee instead of just putting it under suspension for a number of days), then it is said to have breached an employment contract.

Courts nowadays are more careful in examining cases of wrongful termination, based on the employee-at-will doctrine. More than before, employers' actions are being closely investigated to make ascertain on whether an employee has been wrongly discharged from his work. Current employment laws are also being amended in recent years to accommodate and uphold the legal rights of employees and to lessen cases of wrongful termination.

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