In the following educational legal video, experienced Hamburg employment lawyer Andrew P. Fleming discusses wrongful termination claims and explains your rights under the law.
One problem some of our clients or prospective clients have is that they misunderstand the meaning of the term “wrongful termination.” Wrongful termination in the workplace is not, in my opinion, illegal. When I receive a call from someone who says, “I was wrongfully terminated,” I often respond to them by saying, “Well, it’s not illegal to be wrongfully terminated. It is illegal to be illegally terminated.”
Wrongful termination is a broad brush expression that is often used to cover unfair – as well as illegal – terminations. If somebody calls me and says, “I’ve been wrongfully terminated,” I always ask them, “Why were you terminated?” If the person says, “I was terminated, and it was wrongful because they didn’t follow their absenteeism policy, or they didn’t follow their employee handbook,” I say, “Well, that doesn’t sound fair, but it’s not illegal.”
Employee handbooks, interestingly, are not contracts. Even though an employee handbook might say the employee is entitled to progressive discipline – meaning they’ll only get a written warning the first time, and then two days off the second time, and then be terminated on the third event – it would be wrongful to be terminated under those circumstances, but not illegal because the handbook is not a contract. I always have to diagnose whether or not a specific instance of wrongful termination slides over to being an illegal termination.
Do you feel you were the victim of wrongful termination? The dedicated Hamburg employment lawyers at Chiacchia & Fleming, LLP have extensive experience in aggressively representing the rights of employees in all kinds of workplace disputes. Contact us today to schedule a consultation. Let our experience work for you.