A “wrongful termination” is one in which an employer has terminated or laid off a worker in violation of a legal right of the employee. It is not enough for the employee to simply show that he/she was treated unfairly but the person must show that the firing was “wrongful.” This means that legal rights were denied. Most states, including Michigan, has adopted the legal concept of “employment at will” which developed in England centuries ago and means that it is presumed that the employer has the right to terminate someone without a reason and the employee has the right to resign at any time. There are many of exceptions to the "employee at will doctrine." Those exceptions fall into the broad categories listed below:
- Discrimination based on age, race, sex, disability, religion or national origin
- Breach of Contract Breach of Implied Contract
- Breach of Covenant of Good Faith and Fair Dealings
- Violations of Public Policy
The consequences for any of the above violations can vary based on the rights that have been infringed. Some can result in statutory penalties, others mean that the employer must pay the wrongfully terminated employee for lost income, expenses, and punitive damages.
Wrongful termination complaints can be filed one of two ways: with a government agency responsible for the enforcement of labor laws, or in a civil lawsuit. If your employer has violated public policy or company policy, a civil lawsuit is likely the only way to settle the dispute.
If you have been wrongfully terminated or laid off, contact the Law Offices of Steven L. Skahn for a consult on your legal and civil options.