Wrongful Termination Checklist

By Regina Hamilton

Terminating employment is difficult for the worker and employer. Loosing your job means more than a loss of income. A loss of dignity and pride also follows. Workers do have rights when it comes to termination. If the employer is in violation of these rights, the employee can file a wrongful termination claim.

Discrimination

Employers are prohibited from firing or penalizing workers on the grounds of race, color, national origin, religion, sex, disability or pregnancy. Employers that discriminate are in violation of both federal and local laws. Even "at will" employers, who can discharge employees for no cause, cannot use discriminatory practices when they terminate workers. Doing so can bring litigation, fines and penalties.

Employment Contracts

Employers must honor the terms of employee contracts. Contacts can be written or implied. If your employer dismisses you before the contract ends, the employer may be guilty of wrongful termination. The employer risks lawsuits and paying damages for lost wages.

Whistle-blowing

Employees have rights when it comes to whistle-blowing. If an employee discloses company health and safety violations to the proper authorities and is later dismissed, the employer risks being sued for wrongful discharge. Employees are allowed to report violations, unethical and illegal activity without the threat of being dismissed.

Peforming Illegal or Unsafe Acts

If an employer ask the employee to perform a task that is either illegal or unsafe, the employee can refuse. If the employee is dismissed for this reason, the employer is at risk for wrongful termination. The employee also cannot be fired for filing compensation claims.

Time Off

Personal leave and policies regarding time off are at the company's discretion. However, employees cannot be fired for taking time off to which they are legally entitled. Examples of this include military service and voting. Employees can file wrongful termination claims in these cases.

Company Policies

It is up to companies to set their own policies toward termination. However, the company is responsible for making employees aware of their procedures. If a company violates its own procedures in terminating an employee, it is guilty of wrongful termination. Written warnings, evaluations and notice periods are all examples of company policy.

About the Author

Regina Hamilton has been writing off and on since leaving college in 1992. Her experience includes content writing for a legal Web site but has recently moved on into other areas including eHow, Garden Guides and Answerbag. Hamilton has a Master of Fine Arts in creative writing from Ohio State University.

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