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Mitchell Pollack & Associates PLLC

Questions surround if man’s wrongful termination lawsuit

| Jan 17, 2019 | Employment Law for Employers |

New York State employers who are seeking to protect their business will often need to dismiss employees who they deem detrimental to it. This is highlighted in situations that are public with prominent people accused of violating the requirements to retain the job. There is often back and forth regarding how far employment law goes in protecting workers from wrongful termination and the right of employers to dismiss an employee if they feel it is necessary. Employers who are confronted with this situation should understand their rights and have help from a law firm that understands the perspectives of workers and employees.

A man who worked as a meteorologist on an upstate television station was fired from his job after making an inappropriate comment about a slain civil rights leader. There is a dispute as to whether he can succeed in a lawsuit against the station for his dismissal. The man referred to Martin Luther King Jr. using a derogatory term for African-Americans. He claimed that it was inadvertent and resulted from his speaking too fast, not because of racism or for any other reason. He was subsequently dismissed from his job.

The man had worked at the station for more than a year before he was fired. There are contrasting opinions in the legal community as to whether he can sue. Because New York is “employment-at-will,” the employer can fire a worker for any reason except in situations where the law prevents it. For example, discrimination against the worker does not justify a firing. However, even though he might have tough road in there being a successful lawsuit, he could have had a contract that required cause for a firing. If he did not intentionally make the offensive comment, then he might be able to sue.

Employers are unavoidably confronted with difficult decisions that could have far-reaching implications to their business. When it is a well-known business that is in the public eye, this is exacerbated so they must act not just in their financial interests, but in how they are perceived. Having legal assistance when navigating employment law is not limited to firing workers, but in crafting employee handbooks, drafting contracts, handling wage disputes and in deciding how to discipline workers. In complicated cases related to employment law for employers, a law firm that specializes in these situations is imperative.