When Is an Employee Termination Considered Wrongful?

It’s common to feel like the reason for your termination was wrongful. Those who work hard, and put in the effort day after day, deserve to feel secure in their position. Unfortunately, this isn’t always the case. Employers will sometimes terminate an employee in a discriminatory manner, and when they do, it’s not just wrong – it’s also illegal.

What Is At-Will Employment?

Crucial to the understanding of wrongful termination is the concept of at-will employment. Michigan is one of many states which follows at-will employment, meaning that an employee can be terminated at any time, with or without cause. Similarly, employees can terminate their own employment at any time and for any reason. Because of this, it may be difficult to prove that your termination was wrongful. Employers can cite any reason for your termination, or give no reason at all, so wrongfully terminated employees will need to provide enough evidence to prove that their termination was the result of discrimination.

When Is It Wrongful?

A termination is considered wrongful when it is rooted in discrimination against certain protected classes. Under federal law, an employer may not terminate an employee based on their race, national origin, religion, sex, sexual orientation, citizenship status, gender identity, disability, age, or genetic makeup – and there are several other categories beyond these, including retaliation for reporting any of these types of discrimination and even military service. Michigan law also expands upon these classes, with the addition of marital status, AIDS/HIV status, height or weight, and a misdemeanor arrest record. While employers may terminate an employee for another reason, a termination based on any of these attributes is wrongful and legal action should be taken.

If you suspect that your termination may have been based on one of these protected class attributes, the next step is to begin gathering evidence to support this. Often, this is where wrongful termination claims fall flat. Because of at-will employment laws, an employer doesn’t have to substantiate any reason for termination, so you’re unlikely to gain any meaningful information from them (though they will be stuck with whatever reason they gave at the time). Instead, wrongfully terminated employees will need to build their own evidence, the most effective of which may be the experiences and statements of previous employees who have had a similar experience. Using the statements and experiences of past employees to establish a history of discriminatory terminations is an effective way to prove an employer’s illegal practices. 

If you feel that your termination may have been discriminatory, we want to help. Contact our team today to schedule your consultation.

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Carla D. Aikens, P.L.C.

When it comes to the mission and values of the law firm of Carla D. Aikens, P.L.C., there are two words which provide the foundation for everything we do: honesty and integrity. We would be honored to represent you with honesty and integrity in every facet of your case. Please do not hesitate to give us a call or send us an email to schedule your free consultation.

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