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Can I sue my employer for wrongful termination in an at-will employment state?

On Behalf of | Dec 24, 2020 | Employment Law

Most workers expect to keep their jobs with their company as long as they show up on time and do their work properly. There are rare instances, however, in which an employee does what they’re supposed to and still loses their job. The at-will employment doctrine generally gives the right to fire workers as they please, but an employee may be able to sue for wrongful termination if they can prove that discrimination or retaliation motivated their firing.

What are employer rights in at-will employment states?

Employers in at-will employment states generally have the freedom to fire their workers without notice, for any reason that isn’t illegal. On the token’s flip side, employees typically have the right to quit their job with little to no warning, as well. 

Some employers may have their workers sign documentation acknowledging that they understand at-will employment laws on their first day of work, although this isn’t required. Courts generally regard workers as at-will employees even if they don’t sign any documentation acknowledging their employer’s status. 

When might your firing violate the law in an at-will state?

Most jurisdictions’ laws prohibit employers from firing an employee because they took leave to tend to a family medical emergency. It is also unlawful, in most cases, for an employer to fire you after you file a workers’ compensation, a whistleblower claim, serve on a jury or report a safety hazard. 

If you were fired because of your race, national origin, religion, gender, pregnancy, disability, age or your inclusion in any other “protected” class that exists under federal or state laws, that’s also illegal.

What to do if you suspect your employer violated the law when they fired you

You owe it to yourself to consult with an employment attorney if you suspect that your Jackson employer went beyond in exercising their at-will rights in firing you. At-will employment doesn’t mean that wrongful terminations don’t exist.