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 without cause. However, both as a contract employee or a non-contract employee, you have certain rights. Your employer cannot terminate your employment for unfair reasons, such as discrimination or because you filed a complaint.
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. Knowing where you stand with a company at the time of termination can help you identify wrongful termination activities early on.
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. For any employee, an employer needs a justified reason for termination.
Types of wrongful termination include:
- Being terminated for filing a legitimate complaint or testifying against the company (retaliatory). If you complain about workplace safety, discrimination, wage and hours, a denied leave claim or any other grievance, that complaint does not serve as grounds for dismissal.
- 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.
- Termination based on discrimination. If your employer has no better reason to terminate your employment than your age, race, gender, sexual orientation, religion or another personal defining factor, the act is illegal and unethical.
- Breach of contract termination. Employees may file a wrongful termination claim for breaches (failure to uphold the terms) of both explicit and implicit contracts. Explicit contracts are verbal or written. Implicit or implied contracts are created when policies create a sense of employment protection or termination procedure – i.e. if the handbook outlines a procedure for termination.
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 communication as possible. It may help prove misconduct, particularly if your employer tries to cover up evidence. When the Phoenix employment attorneys at Gillespie, Shields, Durrant & Goldfarb take on wrongful termination cases, we start investigating right away. Employment claims tend to have a relatively short lifespan, and sometimes they can take time to pursue.
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 consequences of wrongful termination. You worked hard to secure your position with a company, and because of someone’s careless or malicious behavior, you have to start the process over again. The good news is you do not have to live with these unfair decisions. You can take action against them for justice and financial restitution. The team at Gillespie, Shields, Durrant & Goldfarb in Phoenix is ready to help. Contact us today to learn more.