If an employer wishes to let an employee go, there are certain laws that govern how and why it may do so. For example, an employer cannot discriminate against an employee by firing them based on their race, sex or religion. Any violation of the law or breach of a contract with the employee can result in the employer facing a lawsuit from the fired employee.
At-Will Employment in New Hampshire
Like many other states in the country, employment in New Hampshire is considered “at-will.” This means that an employee can quit or an employer can fire a worker at any time and for any reason. No advanced notice is required. This does not, however, mean that an employer is justified in terminating an employee in every circumstance. Under the law, there are exceptions that restrict an employer’s ability to let an employee go.
Wrongful Termination in New Hampshire
New Hampshire employees are protected from termination in some circumstances. Employers cannot fire an employer for discriminatory reasons. They also cannot fire an employee in retaliation for that employee asserting his or her rights. If the employer entered into a contract or employment agreement with an employee that governs how and when the employee may be fired, the employer is bound to adhere to the terms of the contract. Any violation of these rights by an employer can result in payment of lost wages, lost benefits, damages and legal fees to the employee.
Breach of Contract: Employees who have an employment contract are not considered at-will employees. Such agreements often set forth the length of the position and what is considered good cause for being fired. If an employer fires an employee and it violates the terms of that agreement, the employee can sue the employer for breach of contract. If no employment contract is in place, but the employer violates a company policy that is contained in the employee handbook, that may also be considered a breach of contract.
Discrimination: Under both state and federal law, it is illegal for an employer to fire an employee based on a personal characteristic or class that is legally protected. The federal law states that an employer must have a minimum number of employees in order to be required to comply with discrimination laws. The company must have a minimum of 20 employees for age discrimination, four employees for citizenship claims and at least 15 employees for most other types of discrimination. However, New Hampshire law prohibits employment discrimination based on sex, religion, age, race, color, national origin, disability, sexual orientation, genetic information or marital status for employers with at least six employees.
Retaliation: Employees are protected from being fired in retaliation for asserting their rights under both federal and New Hampshire law. If an employee believes he or she was demoted because of age, the employer cannot fire him or her for filing a complaint. An employer cannot fire an employee for refusing to take part in an illegal activity, and it cannot fire an employee for participating in an investigation into the company or for providing testimony. In addition, New Hampshire law protects employees from retaliation when they engage in certain protected activities such as asbestos management, child care licensing, crime victims who take employment leave, dog and horse racing employees, toxic and hazardous waste management, and Medicaid fraud.
Public Policy: Another exception to the at-will employment doctrine is for instances involving public policy. An employer cannot fire an employee for an action that is supported by public policy. For instance, the law allows workers to report unsafe working conditions. If an employee reports such a condition to the government, the employer is barred from firing them because the employee’s action was consistent with public policy.
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.