When Can Your Business Be Sued for Wrongful Termination?

Wrongful Termination

New York businesses can, in general, fire employees for any reason. But there are limits to this “at-will” employment rule. If you’re an employer, you may have a perfectly valid reason for firing a worker. But that won’t necessarily stop an aggressive plaintiff’s lawyer from accusing you of wrongful termination. If you’re facing claims of illegally firing someone, talk to the New York business lawyers of Rosenbaum & Taylor.

What Is Wrongful Termination?

New York is an at-will employment state. This means an employer has the right to fire an employee for any reason, or no reason at all. But that right is not absolute. A wrongful termination happens when an employer fires someone in a way that violates the law or breaches a contract.

More specifically, terminating a worker for any of these reasons is considered wrongful termination.

Firing Someone Because of a Legally Protected Trait

This category includes race, color, religion, age, disability, national origin, sexual orientation, gender, and other characteristics. An example is someone who’s fired for engaging in behavior for which someone of a different race is merely disciplined. This type of discrimination violates state and federal law, with New York statutes providing greater employee protections.

Firing Workers for Validly Using a Program or Benefit

Numerous examples abound. For instance, injured employees have the right to file for workers’ compensation. They can also take time off from work pursuant to the Family and Medical Leave Act. An employer cannot fire an employee for using these programs.

Firing Employees for Reporting Illegal or Dangerous Workplace Behavior

The law protects those employees who report or file complaints related to certain activities at work. Examples include discrimination or unsafe working conditions. This type of firing is considered unlawful retaliation.

Termination in Violation of an Employment or Collective Bargaining Contract

Employment and union contracts protect workers, often by requiring that employees only be terminated for cause. “Cause” refers to certain conditions that have to be met, such as insubordination. It’s important to speak with a New York business law attorney before firing an employee subject to a contract.

Boss Firing an Employee

How We Advocate for Employers Accused of Wrongful Termination

We defend New York businesses that have been accused of wrongfully terminating their employees. This includes:

  • Investigating the circumstances and allegations concerning the wrongful termination claim.
  • Acquiring evidence to show that the termination was in fact lawful, including by use of discovery.
  • Explaining to our clients what the state and federal employment laws are.
  • Interviewing witnesses and other third parties who can defend the employer’s actions.
  • Using alternative dispute resolution methods such as mediation to try to resolve the issue.
  • Attempting to settle the lawsuit, minimize damages, and avoid the hassle of a trial.
  • Defending the employer in court and before administrative bodies.

Our New York business law firm also offers the following, which can help reduce the likelihood of future wrongful termination litigation:

  • Reviewing your current business practices with an eye toward how you conduct terminations.
  • Adopting or revising workplace policies and procedures that concern the steps used to discipline and terminate employees.
  • Reviewing and drafting employment contracts to protect your company’s right to terminate. employees
  • Providing general counsel and advice to New York businesses.

Connect With Our New York Business Lawyers Today

As an employer, you may be on the hook for substantial damages if a jury believes you wrongfully terminated someone. But you have legal options. It may be possible to have the suit dismissed, to fight the allegations, or to negotiate a settlement that saves you money.

Regardless of the claims made against you, let Rosenbaum & Taylor defend you in your wrongful termination case. Give us a call today.

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