Can I sue my former employer for wrongful termination?

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Can I sue my former employer for wrongful termination?

I was fired because they said that I didn’t do my work to their standards. I know I did and tried to explain and even pleaded with them to return to the site where they said work wasn’t done, to show them it was done to what I thought was their standard. I filed for unemployment and received it weeks later. It was ruled in my favor because the unemployment office determined that there was no policy in place for which I was fired for.

Asked on September 14, 2010 under Employment Labor Law, North Carolina

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

If you had a contract and you were fired against its terms, that would be wrongful termination. Or if you believe you were fired owing to discrimination--e.g. because of your race, sex, religion, age over 40, or disability status--you would have a claim. Or if you were fired for bringing forward a protected claim, such as for overtime, that would also be illegal.

However, barring the above, probably you cannot sue for wrongful termination. Without a contract, employees are "employees at will."  As the term implies, "employees at will" may be fired (or hired, demoted, transfered, promoted, salary increased or reduced, etc.) at will, for any reason that is not discriminatory or otherwise  illegal. Simply not liking an employee or how he or she did a job is a valid reason to terminate them; so is that the boss simply had a bad day. It's often unfair, but it is the law.


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