No one enjoys being fired. It can cause serious financial hardships as you search for a new job. Employers have the right to terminate employees as they deem fit, but they cannot fire an employee for an unlawful reason.
When can I pursue a wrongful termination lawsuit?
Absent a collective bargaining agreement, workers in New York’s private sector are considered at-will employees. This means they can be fired for any reason or no reason at all.
This may seem unfair, especially if you were laid off for a seemingly arbitrary reason. However, there are limits on at-will employment one of which is that employers cannot fire a person for an illegal reason.
For example, there are federal and state laws that prohibit discrimination in the workplace. This includes discrimination based on race, gender, religion, age, disability and other protected classes. Firing someone due to their status as a protected class can be grounds for a wrongful termination lawsuit.
Federal and state laws protect whistleblowers from retaliation for reporting employer misconduct. If a worker is fired due to being a whistleblower, this could also be grounds for a wrongful termination lawsuit.
Not all discharges are grounds for wrongful termination
Even if you were fired, this does not automatically make you eligible for a wrongful termination lawsuit. Employers have the right to fire at will, but this right does not allow employers to fire workers for discriminatory reasons or in retaliation for their actions as a whistleblower. If you believe you have grounds for a wrongful termination lawsuit it can help to discuss the situation with an attorney for further guidance.