Most employment is at-will, meaning the employer generally has the right to discharge an employee at any time for any reason or for no reason at all. However, a termination or other job action cannot violate protections against unlawful discrimination or retaliation.
Federal laws prohibit employment actions based on an individual’s sex, religion, age, race, national origin, disability, pregnancy status or veteran status. If an employee claims that you fired them because they are part of one of these protected classes, you could face an employment discrimination investigation by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) along with a wrongful termination lawsuit requesting monetary damages and other relief.
Before you decide to sever ties with an employee, it is smart to prepare yourself for the possibility that you could face these legal ramifications. Here are some proactive steps that can be taken:
Wrongful discharge claims are often proved by circumstantial evidence, so taking these steps can help you overcome the inference that the reason given for firing the employee was a pretext for unlawful discrimination or retaliation.
The experienced employment law attorneys at Hemmer DeFrank Wessels, PLLC stand prepared to answer your questions about legal and illegal employment termination. We also help companies create employee handbooks and disciplinary processes, and we draft employment contracts and separation agreements. To schedule a free initial consultation, call 859-344-1188 or contact us online. We represent businesses in Kentucky, Ohio, and Indiana.