What Every Employee Should Know About Wrongful Terminations
Termination of employment can happen for various reasons, but being aware of legal boundaries and employee rights is essential. Wrongful termination cases can be complex, and understanding the nuances is crucial. In this blog, we’ll explore common misconceptions of wrongful termination and provide insights to help employees navigate these challenging situations.
Legal Protections Beyond At-Will Employment
In Ohio, employment is generally considered “at-will,” but employees still have legal protections against unfair termination. At-will employment means that the employer or the employee can terminate the working relationship at any time, with or without cause. However, without a valid cause, exceptions and legal protections may restrict the employer’s ability to fire an employee.
- Employers are prohibited from terminating employees based on protected characteristics such as race, color, religion, sex, national origin, disability, age, and ancestry under the anti-discrimination law enforced by the Civil Rights Commission.
- Retaliation for engaging in protected activities (like reporting workplace violations) is also illegal.
Quitting Doesn’t Always Erase Rights
If faced with wrongful termination concerns, quitting doesn’t necessarily eliminate legal rights. Constructive discharge, where the world environment becomes intolerable, can still be grounds for legal action. If you can demonstrate that the work environment was made unbearable due to unlawful actions by your employer, you may still have legal grounds for a wrongful termination claim.
What About Full and Part-Time Employees?
Wrongful termination laws apply to full-time and part-time employees, ensuring equal protection regardless of the hours worked per week. Employment laws in Ohio are designed to protect workers from unjust termination practices.
What to Do If You Think You Have a Case of Wrongful Termination
- Document everything: Keep detailed records of the events leading up to your termination, including discriminatory actions, instances of retaliation, or violations of employment agreements or company policies.
- Consult with an employment attorney: Seek legal advice from an employment attorney who specializes in wrongful termination cases. They can evaluate the specifics of your situation, help you understand your rights, and guide you on potential legal actions.
- Review employment contracts and policies: If you have one, examine it and review company policies. It could strengthen your case if your termination violates the terms outlined in your contract or company policies.
- File a complaint: Depending on the nature of the wrongful termination, you can file a complaint with the appropriate agency. The Ohio Civil Rights Commission (OCRC) handles discrimination claims. Alternatively, you may need to contact the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) for certain federal claims.
- Preserve Evidence: Preserve any relevant evidence, such as emails, text messages, or witness statements, that support your case. This evidence may be crucial in establishing the circumstances of your termination.
Navigating wrongful termination requires a clear understanding of legal protections and proactive steps. By being informed and taking decisive actions, employees can protect their rights and seek justice in unjust termination cases.
CONTACT ELK + ELK
If you or a loved one has been a victim of wrongful termination, Elk + Elk can help. Call now for a free case review at 1-800-ELK-OHIO (1-800-355-6446). We provide answers and support throughout the entire process.