The majority of the states use at-will employment laws. People sometimes describe these as laws saying that they can be fired at any time and without reason. The same option is extended to the employee, who can quit anytime without legal ramifications.
This all may be true, but some people take this a step too far and assume that it means all firings are legal. If a worker is employed under at-will laws and doesn’t have a contract, they believe that means they have no options if they get fired, and it is never illegal. But this is simply a myth. A firing still can certainly be illegal, and you need to know what options you have.
What makes it illegal?
At-will employment just means that your employer doesn’t have to have cause to fire you. You don’t have to do anything wrong to be terminated. Just because they don’t have a reason doesn’t mean they can fire you for a reason that has already been determined to be illegal.
For instance, it is illegal to fire workers based on their race or age. If the employer decides to do this, they may think that they’re allowed to since the workers are employed under at-will laws, but they are still violating those workers’ rights. The same is true if they fire someone based on their gender or based on a disability. All these are protected classes, and workers still get these protections even under at-will employment laws.
If you have been fired illegally, don’t assume that there’s nothing you can do simply because you’re an at-will employee. Take the time to look into all the legal options you have moving forward.