Although many workers qualify as “at-will” employees, employers are still prevented from firing employees for reasons not considered “valid” by the law. Many exceptions exist that protect all employees from being fired unlawfully or treated unfairly. Being informed of these exceptions are vital to knowing your rights and ensuring you are protected.
If you were fired or believe that your employer acted negatively towards you as a result of missing work for a legitimate reason, you may have a legal claim. Here’s a section of my book “The Employee Rights Handbook” that deals with just that. Read now and get informed!
Firing Due to a Legitimate Illness or Absence
You cannot be fired if you were injured on the job and file a workers’ compensation claim, or are absent for a medical reason relating to pregnancy or for taking maternity leave of less than 12 weeks in any given one-year period (in violation of the federal FMLA if you work for an employer with more than 50 full-time employees). However, an employer may have the right to fire a worker who is excessively absent due to illness. In that case a viable option might be for you to file for and collect benefits under the company’s short or long-term disability plan.
The above legal theories are exceptions to the traditional employment-at-will rule and may be useful in recovering greater benefits or damages when you are fired. The law varies greatly from state to state, and each case warrants attention based upon its particular facts and circumstances. However, this information should help you determine if you have been fired illegally or unfairly. For example, you should now understand many of the instances when firings become suspect. These include:
- When you are about to receive a large commission or vested stock option rights
- If the company fails to act in a manner specified in its employment applications, promotional literature, policy statements, “welcome aboard” letters, handbooks, manuals, written contracts, correspondence or memos, benefit statements, or disciplinary rules
- If you are fired right after returning from an illness, pregnancy, or jury duty
- If you are fired after complaining about a safety violation or other wrongdoing
- If you are over 40, belong to a minority, are partially disabled, or are a female and believe you were fired primarily because of such personal characteristics
- If you are a longtime worker and believe the firing was unjustified
- If you received a verbal promise of job security or other rights that the company failed to fulfill
In many situations the company may still have a right to fire based on the traditional employment-at-will rule. But even in those states that adhere to the rule, you can obtain additional benefits by demonstrating your knowledge of the above exceptions and appealing to the company’s sense of decency and fair play.
Since laws change rapidly, consult with an experienced employment attorney or research current case decisions and statutory developments in your state to be sure you know your rights in this area whenever you are fired or treated unfairly.
Many employers fire workers without warning—for obvious reasons. By firing workers suddenly, employers believe they will keep workers off balance, without sufficient time to anticipate the discharge and plan ahead.
No matter how you learn the news, it is important to remain calm so you can carefully consider your options. The fact that you are fired suddenly (as opposed to being given a warning) does not mean you should accept fewer benefits than you deserve.
The first question to ask yourself when you are fired is whether the employer had a valid legal basis for doing so. The preceding material mentioned various instances where employers are prohibited from discharging workers, even those employed at will. However, these are not the only prohibited kinds of actions. For example, do you have a written contract? If so, what does it say? Employers cannot fire you in a manner inconsistent with the terms of the written contract. Thus, if you are hired for a definite term (for example, one year), you cannot be fired prior to the expiration of the contract term except for cause.
For a full depth analysis on this topic and many more, visit http://legalstrategiespublishing.com/ to purchase “The Employee Rights Handbook” today!