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Understanding wrongful termination

On Behalf of | Apr 12, 2023 | Workplace Discrimination, Workplace Retaliation |

Losing a job for any reason can be devastating on an emotional and financial level. Feeling like you lost the job for unfair reasons, however, is even worse than losing a job for a reason that makes sense.

In Kentucky and other at-will employment states, employers are legally permitted to terminate an employee for any lawful reason. At the same time, employees are permitted to, resign from a position for any reason and at any time.

An unfair termination is not always unlawful

Wrongful termination is the termination of an employee for an unlawful reason. Unfortunately, many people get terminated for unfair reasons that are not unlawful.

For example, your boss may decide to fire you simply because they do not think you are a good fit for the company. While you may disagree with this reason, it is technically not illegal, and therefore will not be considered wrongful termination under the law.

Here are some of the most common forms of wrongful termination:

  • Termination for discriminatory reasons: Terminating an employee because of their membership in a protected class. Age, gender, race and religion are a few examples of protected classes.
  • Termination in retaliation: Employers are also not legally allowed to terminate an employee for in retaliation for participating in an EEOC investigation, reporting sexual harassment, or reporting illegal activities within the company.
  • Termination in breach of contract: Terminating an employee in a way or for a reason that violates the terms of their employment contract. For example, the contract may require the employer to give the employee a certain amount of notice before terminating them. Firing an employee without the requisite notice may be considered wrongful termination.

If you feel that your termination was unlawful, it is in your best interest to save all documentation and correspondence with your employer and seek professional advice. A successful wrongful termination lawsuit can result in damages for back pay, front pay and emotional distress.