When deciding whether or not to terminate an employee, employers must follow all state and federal wrongful termination laws. Although many employers maintain an at-will employment relationship with their workers, there are certain circumstances when it is illegal to terminate one’s employment. Workers with contracts in place must have those stipulations regarding termination honored, and employers may not fire an employee based on discriminatory reasons (nation of origin, ethnicity, race or skin color, etc.) In the event of an unlawful firing, employers can be faced with the legal action from terminated employees.
At-will Employment in Idaho
Because Idaho is designated as an at-will employment state, employers are allowed greater flexibility when it comes to firing workers in many instances. Under at-will regulations, employers can terminate a worker’s employment for any reason and at any time unless they are in violation of contractual stipulations or existing laws.
Wrongful Termination in Idaho
At-will employment statutes entail a number of exceptions employers must honor to ensure they remain in full compliance with the law. These exceptions can include firings performed in retaliation of protected activities, those based on discriminatory reasons or those that breach an existing contract that counters the at-will employment doctrine in Idaho. Employers that violate exceptions to at-will employment laws can find themselves with serious legal repercussions. Employers may be ordered to provide unpaid wages to an employee, or they may be responsible for covering court costs and punitive damages.
Breach of Contract: While Idaho is designated as an at-will employment state, workers with a contract in place may not be considered an at-will employee if said contract spells out specific circumstances and timelines in which firing is permissible. Coverage is extended to both oral and written contracts, as well as collective bargaining agreements instituted on behalf of union workers. In the event a contract exists between employer and employee, contractual obligations would override at-will laws and prohibit an employer firing without reason or notice.
Discrimination: Issues of discrimination feature heavily in many wrongful termination cases, which underlines the importance of employer awareness. Discrimination in terms of firings occurs when employers let go a worker due to certain physical characteristics or cultural designations. There are both federal and state laws that offer guidance on which classes are protected. According to federal statutes, workers cannot be fired for their status as a veteran, race and/or color, religious beliefs, nation of origin, disability, age and sex. Idaho also recognizes these protected classes.
Retaliation: Certain activities are protected under the retaliation exception, which dictates that Idaho employers are not permitted to let go an employee for participating in any of these protected acts. For instance, an employee filing a claim to receive wages owed for overtime pay may not be fired, as filing such claims is allowed by local and federal statutes. Employers are also not allowed to fire a worker for opposing any unfair and illegal practices in the workplace or participating in those activities that fall under the whistleblower categorization. In Idaho, whistleblower protections are afforded to public sector workers, which stipulates employees cannot be retaliated against a worker for making known illegal practices evident in the workplace.
Public Policy: Idaho recognizes the public policy exception to at-will employment. To this end, employers in the state may not terminate a worker’s employment for participation in what is considered a protected activity. While this categorization can differ from state to state, public policy exceptions typically include one of four categories; workers cannot be fired for exercising their legal rights, notifying the authorities for a workplace violation of the law, refusing to commit an illegal act as requested by an employer and participating in any acts that are deemed to be in the best interest of the public, such as performing jury duty when requested.
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