Almost everyone has been in a work situation that wasn't fair. Whether you didn't get a raise or promotion that you deserved, someone else got one who didn't deserve it or got it based on work you did. Maybe you got a raise or promotion that you didn't deserve, or got an account you didn't work for. We let these little inequities slide at work every day. As they say, fair is for five-year-olds.
But when you find yourself in the Human Resources director's office with your boss and everyone is reciting attorney-approved language while staring at the floor and refusing to make eye contact with you, that approach suddenly doesn't work for you. As you ride down the elevator with a bank box full of your things, your mind races and your palms sweat. They can't get away with this-it isn't fair!
The law weighs and requires a lot of things in pursuit of justice. Fairness isn't one of the requirements. In fact, in employment law, employers are not required to be fair. In order to proceed with a lawsuit against your company for wrongful termination, your firing must violate:
- A Contract. If you had an individual employment contract with your employer, you can review it to see if your termination violated the terms of your agreement. Similarly, if you are a union employee, your contract states more specifically under what terms you can be terminated. Your employee handbook may also have additional requirements or stipulations for termination.
- Discrimination laws. The law prohibits termination due to certain terms, such as age, sex, religion, national origin or handicap. If you have a protected status, you may have a case for discrimination, but only under conditions in which it can be proven that your termination was directly related to your protected status.
- Public policy. You can't can fire employees for reasons that violate "good public policy," which means that if this kind of firing is allowed, it would be bad for society as a whole. Employees cannot be fired for things such as refusing to break laws, refusing to take safety shortcuts, or reporting infractions to regulatory agencies.
Other than under those conditions, a termination may be extremely unfair but still very legal.
If you have been the target of workplace harassment, discrimination or unfair termination, Bouchillon, Crossan & Colburn, L.C. represents clients in federal court and before the EEOC, MSPB and in state and union grievance hearings.
Our attorneys have more than 35 years dedicated to giving clients the attention, advice, support and empowerment they need to effectively meet their goals. We are committed to the principle that all persons shall have equal justice under the law. Call Bouchillon, Crossan & Colburn, L.C. at 304.523.8451 or contact us online to schedule an appointment.