Do I have a case for wrongful termination if I was discharged but was given no specific reason?

UPDATED: Aug 10, 2011

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Do I have a case for wrongful termination if I was discharged but was given no specific reason?

The very vague reason I was given was “poor job performance” but they said they could not disclose any other information even though I was very persistent. I was never written up or warned about my performance and feel that I was fired out of nowhere. I filed for unemployment and my previous employer is fighting it and is now claiming 3 specific dates in which he spoke to me about my job performance. I was not aware of these dates and they were not mentioned in my termination. I am wondering if I have a legal case against my previous employer?

Asked on August 10, 2011 Alabama


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

First, if you did not have an employment contract (or were subject to a union or collective bargaining agreement), you were an "employee at will" and could be fired at any time, for any reason whatsoever, without warning. The only exception would be if you feel you were fired due to your membership in a protected category--e.g. you were fired because of your race, sex, religion, age over 40, disability--or for making a protected claim--e.g. were fired because you used FMLA leave or made a claim for overtime. Other than that, though, they can probably fire you at will, and employees at will rarely succeed on wrongful termination claims. (If you do have an employment contract, its terms regarding termination and discipline will apply.)

If you disagree with their stated reason for  your termination and the denial of your unemployment benefits, you can certainly appeal and try to prove that their story was not the case. To maximize your chance of success, you should retain an attorney to help you (preferably one who specializes in claims like this, or else in employment law more generally), and you can ask the lawyer about any other causes of action you may have, taking into account all the specifics of your case.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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