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This means that employees who are not part of a union, who do not have an employment contract, or who do not work for the federal, state or local government, are “employees at will, ”free to leave their jobs at any time. However, employers are also “at will,” and are free to terminate employees without prior warning and without having particular reasons.
With few exceptions, no laws require employers to treat employees “fairly.” Even in companies where employers have written rules for how to handle complaints and issues with employees, the law does not require them to actually follow their own rules. So in most cases where employees complain that their bosses have been unfair, and their companies have broken their own rules, there is nothing a lawyer can do about it.
When the Law Steps In…
The phrase “wrongful termination” is used a lot in TV dramas, but in reality,
There are some cases, under specific circumstances, in which someone who losses a job or experiences a demotion, lost wages, lost raise, promotion or other adverse job action in violation of state or federal law may be able to sue the employer to recover what was lost.
An employer may not discriminate against an employee because of the employee’s
Discrimination occurs when an employer takes action against an employee because the employee falls into one of the protected categories listed above. For example, an employer may not fire an employee simply because the employee is pregnant, for example; or over 50, for another, etc.
Under certain circumstances, state and federal statutes impose other rules on employers such as:
Employees who suffer when employers violate these statutes by not taking proper action, or doing things that are prohibited, may have legal recourse against such employers.
Very Important: ACT QUICKLY!
If you feel you have a claim against your employer for discrimination as described above, or violation of other state or federal statutes, it is important that you speak to an attorney as soon as possible. There are statutes of limitations that apply that are as short as six months, and if you wait too long, you may be unable to sue no matter how strong your case may be.
Legal Terms and Definitions
Related to Employment Law
Employee at Will – An employee who works at a job and who is not part of a union, and does not have an employment contract or other restrictions on unfair termination of employment.
Whistleblowing – When an employee reports a reasonable belief that the employer is violating a law, rule, regulation or safety standard. The employee may not be retaliated against for making such a report.
Retaliation – When an employer takes action against an employee because the employee participated in an investigation, made a report or was a witness in a proceeding.
Statute of Limitations – The time limit that a person has to sue an employee. For employment discrimination this time limit can be as short as six months.
Adverse Job Actions – Loss of pay, demotion, loss of job, loss of benefits or other actions that negatively affect the conditions of employment.
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These definitions cover only some of
To understand how to handle your particular situation, consult an attorney.
© MSBA 2009, 2010