If you have been fired, chances are you feel horrible about it. With very few exceptions, a firing is a humiliating and often financially devastating experience. If you feel your firing was unfair, the experience is even worse. If you feel your termination was not proper, you may be able to file a legal action against your employer.
All states have some type of at-will employment, which means that employers can fire you at any point without needing a particular reason. In these cases, employees are vulnerable to the whims of their employers. However, many states have exceptions to at-will employment that prevent employers from unfairly terminating you.
Written or Implied Promises
In some states, you prove that you are not actually an at-will employee by showing you received written or implied promises of long-term employment. You may have an actual contract or offer of employment letter that shows you had a reasonable expectation of remaining with the company as long as your job performance met certain standards. Although implied promises are harder to improve, you may have emails or other documentation that showed your employers planned to keep you on indefinitely. Also, the employee manual may set out a hierarchy of disciplinary steps that most be taken before you are terminated for cause.
In some states, the law demands that employers act in good faith and only fire people for justifiable reasons. For instance, a company who fires an employee months before they reach full retirement can be found to have acted in bad faith. Although this standard is rarely used, you may have grounds for legal action under it.
Employees are also protected under federal law from being fired due to discriminatory reasons. You have a legal case if you can prove that you were fired because of your race, your gender, or your religion. Other federal and state statutes can apply. In short, if you feel that you were unfairly singled out for termination, you may have legal grounds to contest your firing.
If you are fired from your job, you may have legal recourse under certain circumstances. Understand, however, that it's possible that employers can often let you go without explanation. However, in many states, their power to fire you has some limits. If you can prove that you were unfairly targeted or had been promised ongoing employment, a legal specialist can help you. Find an experienced employment attorney (such as one from John Franco Law) and ask for a consultation.