At Will Employees and Wrongful Termination
Skilled attorneys protecting your business
Most businesses in Washington DC have a number of “at-will” employees on their staff. “At-will” employees are workers who are not under contract and who have the ability to quit their jobs at any time. Likewise, employers are generally permitted to fire these employees at any time for any reason, or for no reason at all. As discussed below, however, there are exceptions to this general rule.
Exceptions to the at-will employment rules
There are several important exceptions to this rule ‘ under both state and federal law ‘ that can create countless problems for employers.
- Discrimination in the workplace ‘ Under many state and federal statutes, employers cannot fire or refuse to fire an employee due to their sex, race, age, religion, political affiliation, marital status, national origin or because they are disabled.
- Retaliatory termination ‘ At-will employees cannot be fired in retaliation for whistle blowing, filing workers’ compensation claims, engaging in union activity, challenging wage and hour violations, filing a sexual harassment complaint, or making reports about illegal workplace conditions.
- Family and medical leave ‘ Under the Family and Medical Leave Act, employers are prohibited from terminating an employee who has taken leave due to pregnancy, health problems or to care for someone in their immediate family, as long as that employee has complied with certain procedural requirements of the law.
- Formation of an implied contract ‘ In some jurisdictions, if an employer has promised continued employment to an at-will employee as long as their performance remained satisfactory, this can be treated as the creation of an implied contract. When this occurs, the employee may lose his or her “at-will” status and cannot be fired without cause.
- Refusal to commit illegal acts ‘ An employee cannot be terminated for refusing to partake in illegal acts for the company’s benefit.
- Failure to follow employment policy guidelines when terminating an employee ‘ Even in the case of at-will employees, employers must follow the terms of their employment policy when firing an employee. In some cases, those policies can be treated as contractual promises.
If an employer violates any of these restrictions while firing an at-will employee, it can result in a wrongful termination claim being filed against them in court.
Washington DC wrongful termination defense attorneys
Tobin, O’Connor & Ewing represents clients that are facing wrongful termination claims in state and federal court. Our firm also provides consultation services for businesses and other professional practices that are aimed at establishing employment policies and procedures concerning employee hiring and termination. Our labor and employment law attorneys have extensive experience working with the federal statutes that govern these cases, and have the knowledge and skill to get you the best possible results in court.
Contact Tobin, O’Connor & Ewing today
To discuss how you can prevent wrongful termination claims, call 202.536.3359202.536.3359or contact Tobin, O’Connor & Ewing online. We offer a free 30-minute??initial consultation and our office is conveniently located in the Chevy Chase Pavilion, easily accessible from the Friendship Heights Metro station. We look forward to serving you.