Commonly, when you start employment with a company, you are oriented of your job description, responsibilities and the employees' code of conduct. The code of conduct or usually known as employee rules and regulations guides employees on the things they need to do in order to be considered worthy of prolonging their employment and receiving promotions and incentives. On the other hand, it also shows the employees the things they are forbidden to do which opposes the overall goals and objectives of the company. The rules also impose warnings and punishments for those who may be caught violating the rules and regulations.
Sometimes gross violations may even lead to termination of employment. However, if your employment has been terminated on unknown grounds, it would constitute wrongful termination. Generally, being wrongfully terminated means that you have been discharged from your employment for unjust reasons.
Still not every unjust or unfair discharge of an employment constitutes wrongful termination. Though this is the most widely used term, other terms referring to unfair or unjust employment discharge are the following:
- wrongful firing
- wrongful discharge
- wrongful dismissal
- illegal termination
- illegal dismissal
- illegal discharge
These alternate terms connote that an employer must have discharged an employee, illegally, so that such act would constitute wrongful termination. This is connotations is based at the very least on the legal implications of such terms.
If you, as employee, believed that your termination seem unfair, however, in the legal sense, the employer's discharge of your employment cannot be classified as illegal, then the act cannot be considered as wrongful termination.
It is helpful for an employee to be aware of the laws involving wrongful termination. Though knowing and understanding the laws would not prevent you from being wrongfully terminated from an employment, your knowledge will lead you to the ways of fighting against this unjust and illegal treatment and stop abusive employers from practicing such against others.
There is no federal law, which concerns only the subject of wrongful termination. However, a variety of federal laws exists that prevents employers from illegally dismissing/terminating or discharging their employees.
Wrongful termination may be wrongful if:
- it violated the Federal or state's discrimination law
- it violated the rights indicated in the "First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution"
- the act itself violated the discharge policy being enforced by the employer
- led to a breach of implied or explicit contract of employment and/or a collective bargaining agreement between the employer and union
- led to infringement of the "covenant of good faith and fair dealing"
- employee is not willing to break a rule or law
- disguised in a false statement of facts
- due to employees' jury duty
Furthermore, it might be considered wrongful termination if the employer discharged an employee as retaliation for the following:
- lawful exercise of employee rights based on the appropriate labor and employment laws
- lawful exercise of union rights
- taking legitimate leave under the FMLA or Family and Medical Leave Act
- served time in the country's military reserve
- whistle blowing
Based on several significant provisions in wrongful termination laws, victims can seek relief and damages by filing certain complaints with the respective government agency enforcing the laws that had been violated. Victims can also file private lawsuits against their employees or even both of these legal actions.
Keep in mind that knowing your rights and learning what you can do about any violation of it is empowering enough for employees.