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What is wrongful termination, and can you sue in Michigan?

On Behalf of | Sep 4, 2023 | Employees' Rights |

If you have been unjustly fired, you might wonder if you can take legal action against your employer. Wrongful termination refers to the unlawful dismissal of an employee from their job. While employment in the state is generally considered at-will, there are exceptions when the termination breaches the law.

Wrongful termination transpires when an employer fires their workers for reasons that violate federal or state laws. These laws protect employees from being fired for discriminatory, retaliatory or illegal reasons.

What is wrongful termination?

In Michigan, most employment relationships are considered at-will. This is to say that an employer has the right to terminate workers for any reason or no reason at all, as long as the reason is not illegal. Similarly, employees can leave their jobs without giving a reason.

However, federal laws prohibit employers from firing employees based on certain protected categories. These categories include;

  • Race and color
  • National origin
  • Religion
  • Sex
  • Age (for employees over 40)
  • Disability
  • Genetic information

If an employee is terminated based on any of these factors, it may constitute wrongful termination and could be subject to legal action.

In addition to federal protections, the state law offers further safeguards for employees. Michigan’s Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act prohibits employment discrimination based on specified characteristics. If a termination is tied to any of these characteristics, it could be a case of wrongful termination under state law.

Retaliation and whistleblower protection

Wrongful termination can sometimes occur when an employee is fired in retaliation for whistleblowing. For instance, if an employee reports workplace harassment or safety violations and is subsequently terminated, this could be considered retaliation. Whistleblowers, or individuals who report illegal activities within their company, are also protected from retaliation.

If you believe you’ve been wrongfully terminated, you have the right to take legal action. It’s advisable to consult a professional who can assess the specifics of your case and guide you through the legal process.


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