The Employee Whistleblower
If federal or state anti-discrimination laws cover your employer, then he can’t fire you for a discriminatory reason – such as your race, age, or disability. That constitutes a wrongful termination. Retaliatory firings If you report your employer to the police or a state or federal agency for some violation, your employer can’t fire you in revenge – even if you are an at-will employee. This is called “whistleblower” protection.
For example, if your employer is illegally dumping toxic waste and you report the company to the Environmental Protection Agency (“EPA”), you cannot be fired for that reason. Even if your employer claims to fire you for a different reason, it will be very suspicious if you are fired immediately after your report.
See a lawyer who specializes in employment law if this happens to you. If you are involved in a wrongful termination suit, contact a labor lawyer near you. Firings for complaining about wages or working conditions Your employer probably may not fire you for complaining about wages or working conditions – if other employees joined in your complaint. If two or more workers get together to complain to their employer about their wages or their working conditions, the employer probably can’t fire them because of those complaints – because their complaints were “concerted activity” protected by federal law.
That claim should be brought to the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), which is the agency that handles labor union complaints. You must file that claim within 6 months of the date the employer fired you. If you have been illegaly terminated, conact a labor lawyer in your area. Other prohibited reasons for firing Some states have rules that protect workers from being wrongfully terminated. Those rules range from protections from firing for engaging in private, off-duty conduct (such as “moonlighting”) to protections from firing for their political activity (such as attending a political rally).
If I quit, may I sue for wrongful termination? Perhaps you can sue for a form of wrongful termination called “constructive discharge”. Generally, a constructive discharge happens when no reasonable person would have stayed in the job under such bad conditions, and the worker tried without success to get the employer to fix the problem. It’s hard to prove a constructive discharge case, and the rules vary from state to state. You should contact a labor law attorney who specializes in employment law if you think your employer constructively discharged you. If you have questions about wrongful termination, contact a labor lawyer near you.