If you suspect that you have a viable claim for wrongful termination, don’t be fooled by an employer who tries to say that you don’t have a case because you were an “at-will” employee. At-will employment is a term used to describe an employment relationship in which the employer can choose to terminate the employment relationship without notice and without reason.
In fact, all employment relations are automatically presumed to be at-will relationships unless the employer and employee entered into an employment contract that says something different. Nevertheless, one of the exemptions to “at-will” employment is wrongful termination. In other words, if your employer fires you for an unlawful reason, then the at-will employment relationship doesn’t apply.
Here are two examples of wrongful termination scenarios that are exempt from the at-will employment relationship:
Terminations in violation of state public policy: These kinds of terminations were done in violation of state laws. For example, if your employee terminated you out of retaliation for submitting a workers’ comp claim, this would be a violation of public policy.
Implied contract violations: Even if you didn’t sign a formal employment agreement with your employer, you might have an implied contract in place based on written and oral representations. If your termination was in violation of this implied contract, you may have a viable claim for wrongful termination.
Statutes of limitation apply to all employee wrongful termination claims, which means that terminated employees have only a limited amount of time within which to file an action, or they will be forever barred from doing so. Therefore, when an employee suspects that he or she has been wrongfully terminated, it’s important to respond to the situation as swiftly as possible.