In Maryland, most employment is considered "at will," so even if your employer unfairly fired you, it may be difficult to win a wrongful termination lawsuit. However, if your employer suspends or fires you for a discriminatory reason, you may have a winnable case. Always ask for a union representative if possible when meeting with your employer about a disciplinary issue as well as consulting an attorney if you are unfairly terminated.
If you are a member of a union, you have the right to request a union representative at any one-on-one meeting with your supervisor regarding a work issue that could possibly lead to disciplinary action or job termination. If you do not belong to a union, you may ask a co-worker to attend the meeting with you. The representative or co-worker serves as a witness to what transpires during the meeting. Union representatives may also speak on your behalf during the meeting.
Most employment in Maryland is at-will as of 2011. This means that your employer can terminate your employment for any reason whatsoever or without giving a reason. Employers cannot fire employees for discriminatory reasons, however. As of May 2011, employers may not discriminate based on race, religion, national origin, age, disability or marital status. In addition, employers may not suspend or terminate employees in retaliation for complaints regarding worker's compensation or other labor laws.
It is illegal for Maryland employers to use your criminal record as the sole reason for suspending or terminating your employment. Employers cannot ask you about expunged criminal records, such as criminal offenses that happened when you were a juvenile, either before or after you are hired. If you are arrested during the course of your employment, your employer cannot fire you unless your arrest is related to your job duties.
What to Do
If you believe you have been wrongfully terminated, consult an attorney familiar with Maryland employment law. An attorney can tell you whether you have a viable case as opposed to the termination of an at-will employment situation. In addition, your attorney can help you prepare and file a lawsuit if necessary and can negotiate a settlement with your former employer after filing a lawsuit.
Jack Ori has been a writer since 2009. He has worked with clients in the legal, financial and nonprofit industries, as well as contributed self-help articles to various publications.