What is wrongful termination?
The first thing we should address is what wrongful termination is and what it isn’t. Many people, employees and employers alike have a misconception of what constitutes wrongful termination. Absent a union agreement or other contract specifying the terms of employment most employment relationships are “at will” agreements. This means that either party may decide that you are no longer a good fit for the job and decide that you should seek employment elsewhere. This also means that if an employer decides that they don’t like your fashion sense, they could decide to fire you. It isn’t fair but just because a termination isn’t fair, doesn’t mean it is a wrongful termination.
Wrongful termination is being let go because of reasons that are protected by federal law: You can’t legally be let go because of your sex, age, race, or religion, or because you complained about sexual harassment. Additionally, some states protect sexual orientation status, whistleblower status, and certain forms of speech in the workplace.
Preventing a lawsuit
As the employer, you should try to do all you can to prevent these types of lawsuits from taking place.
A few ways to do that is:
- Documentation: Implementing a paper trail for each employee will be a valuable asset if you ever need to fire an employee. Obviously, most people don’t let employees go for their choice of work tie so if you have an issue with an employee, it is always best to document it. Evaluations, disciplinary actions taken, warnings, etc.
- Policies and Procedures: Create very clear and concise workplace policies for your employees that are enforceable. These should include policies on discipline, termination, and standards of conduct. Having an employee handbook that is updated and legally enforceable is a huge asset.
Wrongful Termination lawsuits
If you’ve found yourself the defendant in a wrongful termination suit, you should contact an attorney immediately. If you are involved in an administrative law matter in Chicago, our lawyers are here to protect your rights and interests. Contact us by telephone at 312-332-6733 today or contact our office online to arrange a consultation with an experienced administrative law attorney.