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When is a termination considered wrongful?

While many employers have the right to fire employees without any reason at all, there are some instances in which employers can't fire employees. Employees who are engaging in a protected activity can't be fired as a means of being retaliated against. If an employer does fire an employee as an adverse action for a protected activity, the employee can take legal action against the employer.

What are some of the protected activities?

Participating in an investigation into illegal behavior is one protected activity. Employees may not be fired because they cooperated in an investigation, such as wage and hour complaint investigation or an OSHA investigation. Even if the employee testifies against the employer, their participation is protected. An employee also can't be fired or retaliated against because they file a report about illegal or possibly illegal activities.

What laws protect employees?

There are many federal laws that help to keep employees protected from retaliation and wrongful termination. Some of the laws that are often invoked are the Americans with Disabilities Act, the Civil Rights Act, the Equal Pay Act and other similar acts. Some acts, such as the Family and Medical Leave Act, are sometimes cited in these cases.

How are wrongful termination and retaliation proven?

Three elements must be present to show that a wrongful termination or retaliation occurred:

--The employee must have participated in an activity that is protected.

--The employee must have been subjected to an adverse action.

--The employee must be able to show that the adverse action was related to the protected activity.

Putting together a case regarding adverse actions might be complex. Understanding the laws and processes regarding these types of complaints might make taking legal action easier.

Source: FindLaw, "Retaliation and Wrongful Termination," accessed Sep. 07, 2015

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