In an at-will employment relationship, employers have broad authority to fire employees, for a wide range of reasons. However, not every rationale for firing people is legal, and employers can face potential ramifications if they fire an employee for a legally prohibited reason. Here are five of the most common reasons that employees are illegally fired by their employers:
- One of the most common reasons that employees are illegally fired is due to discrimination. Employees are protected against unjust treatment by their employees by both Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, as well as state laws such as the New York Human Rights Law. Employees who are fired due to their race, sex, skin color, religion, national origin, disability status, or other protected status may be able to seek legal remedies for the discrimination they have faced.
- Denying an employee their benefits
- Another, more devious reason that some employers will fire their employees is to deny them benefits. Many employers promise their employees certain benefits, such as retirement benefits, healthcare, or stock options, as part of their compensation. However, to avoid paying those benefits, they may illegally fire them before the benefits vest, meaning they cannot collect on them.
- Making a worker’s compensation claim
- Another major reason some employees are illegally fired occurs when they are injured on the job. All employers must pay for workers’ compensation insurance, but their rates go up if an employee is injured on the job and they make a workers’ comp claim. When that happens, some employers will fire the employee, either as a form of retaliation, or to save on further expenses.
- Engaging in labor organizing
- Suffice it to say that employers do not like it when employees try to organize a labor union at their workplace. In order to discourage labor organizing, employers will take a variety of drastic steps against organizers, up to and including firing them. When employers dismiss an employee for exercising their right to organize a labor union, they have illegally fired them.
- Retaliation for reporting illegal conduct
- Employees have the right to report illegal conduct by their employer, whether against themselves or against someone else. When employees do this, however, employers may fire them, or subject them to other punishments, as a way of retaliating against an employee for snitching on them. Employees who are illegally fired in this way have a right to seek justice for the harm they have suffered.
Steven Mitchell Sack, the Employee’s Lawyer, is a New York employment lawyer with more than 41 years’ experience handling the many aspects of employment law. His new book, “Fired!: Protect Your Rights & FIGHT BACK If You’re Terminated, Laid Off, Downsized, Restructured, Forced to Resign or Quit,” is available in hardback, and contains valuable advice on dealing with employment and labor law issues. To purchase the book, feel free to contact Steven Sack at 917-371-8000 or visit the website at legalstratpub.com. To inquire about a legal matter, please feel free to contact attorney Steven Sack at 917-371-8000 or firstname.lastname@example.org.