What is wrongful termination?

On Behalf of | Mar 3, 2022 | Employment Law |

Most workers in Michigan are considered “at will.” This means employers are generally permitted to fire most employees for almost any reason. However, there are certain circumstances in which employees are protected under state and federal laws, and sometimes under local ordinances. If the employer fires a worker for a prohibited reason, the firing may be considered wrongful termination.

If an employee believes one of those protections applies to them, they should be familiar with how they are legally protected by employment laws.

Protected categories

  • Discrimination: A termination based on some discriminatory reason may be considered wrongful termination. Termination based on the employee’s age, gender, race, disability, religion or sexual preference is prohibited.
  • Harassment: It may be considered wrongful termination for an employee to fire an employee for reporting harassment in the workplace or if the termination is part of the harassment. Harassment can include behavior that creates a hostile work environment or other types of sexual harassment.
  • Retaliation: When an employer terminates an employee for reporting illegal behavior in the workplace; for reporting discrimination in the workplace; or for cooperating with a workplace investigation or exercising their legal rights, it may be considered wrongful termination.
  • Whistleblowing: If an employer terminates an employee for reporting illegal actions or violations of federal or state laws, the employee may be protected by whistleblower laws and the employer may be prohibited from firing them in retaliation for their whistleblower activity such as reports of company wrongdoing.

There are some other examples of situations when wrongful termination protections may also apply. If the employee has an employment contract with their employer, if they believe they have been fired in violation of that contract, they may have a breach of contract claim for wrongful termination. Protecting their job is important for most employees who should be familiar with wrongful termination protections.