Wrongful Termination

What is constructive discharge?

A constructive discharge occurs when the employer creates a working environment that is so intolerable that a reasonable person would not be able to stay. Since the employee has been left with no choice but to resign, the employee’s resignation is not truly voluntary. In effect, the employee has been terminated by the employer’s conduct.

What is considered wrongful termination?

Typically, employees in the private sector are employees “at-will” and do not have employment contracts for a specific term. As such, they can be terminated by the employer at any time and for any reason. However, some states allow an otherwise “at-will” employee to sue his or her employer on the grounds that he or she has been wrongfully terminated in violation of some clearly-established public policy. In a wrongful termination case, the employee needs to prove that he or she was fired for asserting a legal right (e.g. filing a workers’ compensation claim), for doing something that the law required him or her to do (e.g. attending jury duty), or for refusing to do something that the law forbids (e.g. committing perjury).

I feel I was wrongfully terminated. What are my rights?

Many at-will employees who are terminated believe that they have been terminated wrongfully. They dispute the reason or reasons given by the employer for the termination decision. However, not every termination decision with which the employee disagrees is a wrongful termination. As discussed previously, the term “wrongful termination” has a specific meaning in employment law. An at-will employee who believes that he or she has been wrongfully terminated should consult with an experienced employment law attorney as soon as possible after the termination occurs to determine whether the termination meets the legal definition of a “wrongful termination.” An employee who succeeds in proving that his or her employer wrongfully terminated the employment relationship may be entitled to an award of monetary damages and reasonable attorney’s fees and costs.

Martineau Davis & Associates is committed to aggressive advocacy for our clients while maintaining the highest level of professionalism, integrity, and ethical standards. Contact us at 401-234-0751.

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