Most states in the United States operate under a right-to-work system. Under this system, employers or employees can end their employment relationship at any time for any reason. However, there are still some instances where an employee’s termination violates the law. These scenarios are referred to as wrongful terminations.
A wrongful termination refers to a situation in which an employee is fired or otherwise terminated in a way that breaches state or federal laws, or the terms of an employment contract. If a termination is determined to be wrongful in a court of law, the offended party may be entitled to compensation.
Yes. If a termination was in violation of state or federal laws, a former employee may file a lawsuit to seek compensation from their former employer. Depending on the specific details of the case, the employee may be able to be reinstated, or they may be able to secure back pay or front pay that they would have made if not for the wrongful termination.
Since the United States is a right-to-work nation in the vast majority of cases, most terminations are not wrongful. Employers generally have the right to end an employment whenever they see fit. However, there are two major exceptions to this rule: termination on the basis of a protected class, and contract violation.
If an employee is working under an employment contract, and the contract does not state that the employment relationship can be terminated at any time, then firing an employee at will is a violation of the contract. If an employer violates the contract and terminates the employee anyway, that can be a wrongful termination. Similarly, if an employer terminates a group of people based on their race, religion, sex, ethnicity, or other protected class, that may be seen as discriminatory behavior and render the terminations wrongful.