In law, wrongful dismissal, also called wrongful termination or wrongful discharge, is a situation in which an employee’s contract of employment has been terminated by the employer, where the termination breaches one or more terms of the contract of employment, or a statute provision or rule in employment law. Laws governing wrongful dismissal vary according to the terms of the employment contract, as well as under the laws and public policies of the jurisdiction.
A related concept is constructive dismissal in which an employee feels no choice but to resign from employment for reasons that result from the employer’s violation of the employee’s legal rights.
Being terminated for any of the items listed below may constitute wrongful termination:
- Discrimination: The employer cannot terminate employment because the employee is a certain race, nationality, religion, sex, age, or (in some jurisdictions) sexual orientation.
- Retaliation: An employer cannot fire an employee because the employee filed a claim of discrimination or is participating in an investigation for discrimination. In the US, this “retaliation” is forbidden under civil rights law.
- Employee’s refusal to commit an illegal act: An employer is not permitted to fire an employee because the employee refuses to commit an act that is illegal.
- Employer is not following the company’s own termination procedures: In some cases, an employee handbook or company policy outlines a procedure that must be followed before an employee is terminated. If the employer fires an employee without following this procedure, depending upon the laws of the jurisdiction in which the termination occurs, the employee may have a claim for wrongful termination.
The absence of a formal contract of employment does not preclude wrongful dismissal in jurisdictions in which a de facto contract is taken to exist by virtue of the employment relationship. Terms of such a contract may include obligations and rights outlined in an employee handbook.
Many jurisdictions provide tribunals or courts which that hear actions for wrongful dismissal. A proven wrongful dismissal will tend to lead to the award of one or both of the following remedies:
- reinstatement of the dismissed employee;
- monetary compensation for the wrongfully dismissed.
If you believe you have lost your job for an unlawful reason, you may have a claim for wrongful termination against your former employer, even if you were fired “for cause.” Because bringing a wrongful termination action can be challenging and involve complicated legal proceedings, it may be in your best interests to consult with an attorney.
The lawyers at Nuttlaw will fight to make sure you get the compensation you deserve. I you feel you have been wrongfully fired let us fight for you.