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Essential Wrongful Termination FAQs

Date03 Aug 2022

“At-will employment” is a term used to describe employment in most states in the US. Specifically meaning that if you were employed, you became employed at your own discretion. At-will employment also implies that an employer can terminate, discharge, or otherwise dismiss an employee at any time, without any specific reason. Likewise, an employee can choose to quit at any time, without any specific reason. 

What is wrongful termination?

Under certain circumstances, employees are let go for ethically inappropriate reasons, thus the term we are discussing today enters the conversation, “wrongful termination”. As a wrongful termination lawyer Virginia residents trust from Cohen & Cohen can explain, typically, employment is not guaranteed on an indefinite, continual basis, meaning that although continuity and stability are implied, you can still be discharged at any point for a number of valid reasons, and in the case of wrongful termination, the reasons may not be so valid. 

What exceptions to at-will employment are there?

There are major exceptions to the general rule of at-will employment in the US. An experienced lawyer that specializes in employment related legal matters will be able to help determine if your case intersects with any one of such exceptions, in which you may be eligible to initiate a wrongful termination lawsuit against your former employer. Common exceptions and examples that may imply the termination as being wrongful: 

  • Discrimination on the basis of a protected category.
  • An employee is let go in violation of public policy.
  • An employee is let go in violation of company policy.

What reasons for termination may imply a wrongful termination scenario?

    • Whistleblowing. When an employee has made internal or external parties aware of activities that are undesirable, concerning, or illegal, and is subsequently discharged, they may have been due to whistleblowing.
  • Refusing to commit an illegal act.
      • forgery of documents with the goal of deception of internal or external entities. 
      • refusing to alter accounting books in a way that wrongfully portrays figures after being directed to by your manager.

    • Discrimination. If you believe your termination was in any way based on factors such as race, age, gender, or sexual orientation, it was likely wrongful. 
  • Termination following retaliation: Sometimes, in an attempt to hold a coworker or employer accountable internally, employees may file a claim with HR about an incident that allegedly happened at work. If terminated following the claim, it may very well have been wrongful.

When should I contact a lawyer?

Fortunately for those who were terminated and suspect it was wrongful, there are options for legal recourse. The options vary widely based on the suspected reasons for termination, but a good general rule of thumb when wrongful termination is suspected, is to contact a local lawyer that specializes in employment laws. It is essential to select a lawyer with employment law specializations that practices in the local area where the alleged wrongdoing occurred. A local lawyer will have extensive knowledge of state laws and will be able to determine if you have a viable case. If you do have a viable case, your lawyer will then be able to help develop a strategy for holding the wrongful terminator accountable.

How do I take legal action for my wrongful termination?

The options for legal recourse for those who suspect they were wrongfully terminated varies widely based on locality and the suspected reasons for termination.  Consider contacting a wrongful termination lawyer if you suspect your recent dismissal was not in accordance with the law. An experienced lawyer such as one from Cohen & Cohen will be able to work with you to determine if you have a viable case and then develop a strategy for filing a lawsuit against your former employer.

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