When an employer wants to let go of an employee, there are certain laws and guidelines to which the employer must adhere. Employees may not be fired for discriminatory reasons, such as their race, sex, age, ancestry or religion. They may also not be fired in retaliation for certain actions. Employers should be aware of and be sure to adhere to these laws if they do not want to find themselves facing legal action from a fired employee.
At-will Employment in Kansas
Kansas, along with many other states in the nation, is an at-will employment state. Under the doctrine of at-will employment, either the employer or the employee can terminate the employment relationship at any time. It can be for any reason, and no advance notice is required unless some kind of agreement exists that states otherwise. Employer should be aware, however, that there are some situations that are exceptions to the at-will employment doctrine.
Wrongful Termination in Kansas
Under both federal and state law, employers may not fire an employee if certain circumstances exist. Should an employer be in violation of state or federal employment law, it could face legal action. Consequences could include the employer being responsible for paying the fired employee’s lost and future wages, benefits, damages and legal fees. The employee’s position may be reinstated, and the employer may be required to make reasonable accommodations for the employee.
Breach of Contract: In some situations, an employment contract or agreement may exist between the employer and an employee. Often, such contracts set forth the terms and circumstances under which the employee may be fired. If the employer breaches any of the terms set forth in such a contract, it may face serious legal consequences. It is important for Kansas employers to note that the law recognizes not only written contracts, but also oral or implied contracts as well. For example, if the company has an employee handbook that outlines the process through which an employee may be fired, an implied contract between the employer and its employees may exist.
Discrimination: Federal law prohibits an employer from firing an employee based on certain characteristics. Employees may not be fired for their sex, race, color, national origin, pregnancy, religion, age, disability, citizenship or genetics. This federal law applies to employers with at least 15 employees. The minimum number of employees for a federal age discrimination claim is 20, and a company must have at least four employees for a federal citizenship discrimination claim. In addition, Kansas law also prohibits employment discrimination based on HIV/AIDS and military status. Kansas discrimination laws apply to all employers with at least four employees.
Retaliation: The same state and federal laws that protect against employment discrimination also prohibit employers from firing an employee in retaliation for a certain action or behavior. Retaliation claims may be based on an employee’s complaint about discriminatory practices, health and safety violations or violations of wage and hour laws. Employees are also protected under the law for participating in any investigation into such claims, including providing testimony. The employee’s allegation of illegal activity does not ultimately need to actually be true, but it must be based on a reasonable suspicion.
Public Policy: Kansas also recognizes a public policy exemption to the at-will employment doctrine. An employer is prohibited from firing an at-will employee if it would go against a clearly established public policy. These can include an employee’s exercising a legal right, such as filing for workers’ compensation, reporting a violation or refusing to take part in an illegal activity. The public policy exemption may also apply to activities that clearly support public policy, such as performing jury duty or participating in organized union activities.
The content on our website is only meant to provide general information and is not legal advice. We make our best efforts to make sure the information is accurate, but we cannot guarantee it. Do not rely on the content as legal advice. For assistance with legal problems or for a legal inquiry please contact you attorney.