In Kentucky, in the absence of an employment contract or collective bargaining agreement, employees are considered to be “at-will” meaning that employers have the right to fire employees for any reason or no reason at all, and likewise employees can quit their jobs at any time. However, there are three exceptions in which an employer cannot fire an “at-will” employee.
Exception 1: Termination cannot be discriminatory
Under federal law, an employer cannot fire an employee based on that employee’s age (over 40), race, national origin, sex, religion or a disability that does not affect their job performance. Doing so constitutes workplace discrimination, and an employee may be able to file a claim under such circumstances.
Exception 2: Termination cannot go against public policy
It is illegal to fire a worker for reasons that go against public policy. For example, you cannot fire an employee who reported illegal actions. Another example is child support. Workers who have their wages garnished for child support cannot be fired simply so the employer does not have to deal with the additional paperwork.
Exception 3: The situation of the “just cause” promise
Some employers tell workers that they will be terminated for “just cause” only. This may be verbal or written in an employee handbook. Such statements can be challenged if a worker is fired, as they may be considered an implied employment contract.
Learn more about employment law in Kentucky
Ultimately, this post is for informational purposes only and does not provide legal advice. Those who want further information on employment law in Kentucky are encouraged to explore our firm’s website to learn more about their rights and options.