The general default rule in the United States is that an employee is hired on an “at-will” basis unless the employee and employer enter into an agreement that alters this arrangement. This means that an at-will employee is entitled to quit at any time for any reason or no reason at all. Likewise, the employer can generally terminate an at-will employee for any reason or no reason at all, as long as the termination is not for an unlawful reason.
Unlawful reasons for termination include, but are not limited to, unlawful discrimination, harassment or retaliation; plus, refusal to engage in illegal conduct, violation of a written employment contract for a specified period of time, and interference with an individual’s right to file an unemployment or worker’s compensation claim. Government employees may also have a wrongful discharge claim if they are terminated for exercising their constitutional rights, such as freedom of speech.
As with most civil matters, certain strict deadlines apply to the filing of an administrative charge of discrimination or lawsuit based on wrongful discharge. Agencies and courts will dismiss claims that are not filed in a timely manner.
We invite you to contact us if you believe that you have been subjected to wrongful discharge.