The state of Arizona abides by an “at-will” termination policy, meaning non-contract employees can walk away at a moment’s notice, and employers can terminate non-contract employees at any time for any reason or no reason. However, both as a contract employee or a non-contract employee, you have certain rights. Your employer cannot terminate your employment for unlawful, such as based on your gender, religion, age, disability, national origin, race, or because you opposed such discrimination or other unlawful activity.
Most likely, you will only think about a wrongful termination suit if you find yourself out of a job and are not provided with a good reason why. While under these circumstances you likely are entitled to unemployment benefits, this does NOT by itself create a claim for wrongful discharge. However, knowing where you stand with a company at the time of termination can help you identify what potential claims you may be entitled to bring.
Some companies try to cover up wrongful termination actions with fabricated performance complaints and other information, making wrongful termination cases complex. If you face wrongful termination, an employment attorney can help conduct an investigation to build a case against an employer for his or her misconduct.
Types of Wrongful Termination
If you are fired for any reason other than a clear violation of company policy, company restructuring or a history of poor performance, you may want to look into a wrongful termination claim. To defeat a potential wrongful termination claim, an employer needs a justified reason for termination.
Types of wrongful termination include:
- Being terminated for opposing unlawful activity (for example, by complaining internally or to the EEOC, IRS, or other government agency) or participating in an investigation of the company. This is known as retaliation. If you complain about workplace safety, discrimination, wage and hours, a denied leave claim or any other grievance, and you are subsequently terminated, you may have a wrongful termination claim.
- Being terminated for taking a legal leave of absence. You may not be able to collect wages on leave, but in certain cases, your employer cannot terminate you for taking unpaid leave, including reasons covered under the FMLA (Family Medical Leave Act), to take part in legal proceedings if you were the victim of a crime, for jury duty, to serve in the military (for up to five years) or for other legally excusable forms of absence.
- Discriminatory discharge. If your employer based it’s decision to terminate your employment on your age, race, gender, sexual orientation, religion, disability, or national origin, you may have a wrongful termination claim.
What to Do if You Suspect Wrongful Termination
If you believe you may have been wrongfully terminated, talk to an experienced employment attorney for guidance. Keep as many records of communications with your employer as possible.
Our team can help you file a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), speak with your former employer on your behalf and help you fight for lost wages, emotional distress and other compensatory damages. You worked hard to secure your position of employment, and because of someone’s careless or malicious behavior, you now have to start the process over again. The good news is you do not have to take unlawful conduct sitting down. We can help you hold your former employer accountable for its unlawful activity. The team at Gillespie, Shields, Goldfarb & Taylor in Phoenix is ready to help. Contact us today to learn more.