Sometimes you will need to fire an employee because they are significantly underperforming or you have caught them in an illegal action, such as stealing from the company or participating in insider trading. However, certain laws are in place that prevent employers from firing employees for certain things. These laws make sense because the following items do not really affect the performance of a certain worker. They are meant to protect employees from certain prejudices employers might have, so make sure no one at your business gets fired for these reasons.
In-Depth Wrongful Termination Laws by State
Various federal and state laws exist that prevent business owners from firing workers based on certain attributes. Some of the most common characteristics that are covered include race, age, gender, religion and national origin. Some laws have been enacted that protect employees based on their sexual orientation, so employers cannot fire someone based on the fact that they are lesbian or gay. Protections are also in place for women who become pregnant while working. Since laws are in place that give women who have given birth time off work to care for their newborns, laws have had to be created so that women cannot be fired before giving birth based on the fact that they are pregnant. If a worker believes he or she was fired based on one of the above mentioned qualities, then you could be facing a costly lawsuit.
Occupation Safety and Health Act Violations
In the event that a business owner breaks a law set forth by the Occupation Safety and Health Act (OSHA), an employee may report that violation to the proper authorities. It would then be illegal for the employer to fire that employee. If a business is not abiding by the state’s safety standards, then the issue needs to be fixed so that the company is in line with OSHA. The solution to the problem is not firing the employee who spoke up. Protections are in place to protect whistleblowers so that individuals feel comfortable filing complaints against illegal activities.
It is illegal to terminate someone’s employment as a form of retaliation because someone asserted rights he or she had under anti-discrimination laws. For example, if a women approaches you and complains that she is not being paid as much as her male counterparts for doing the same work, then it would be illegal to fire her. In the event that you are facing a lawsuit regarding this matter, it can be exceptionally difficult to fight against it.
A Worker Having Alien Status
You cannot fire someone due to him or her having alien status. As long as your worker has legal eligibility to work within the United States, he or she can work. These individuals are protected under the Immigration Reform and Control Act.
Refusal to Undergo a Lie Detector Test
Lie detectors are notoriously bad about determining whether someone was actually lying or not. However, many employers still implement these tests, and you cannot fire someone for refusing to take one. This protection is granted under the Employee Polygraph Protection Act. Many states have additional laws concerning employees taking polygraph tests, so review them for your own benefit.
Avoid Being Sued for Breaking Wrongful Termination Laws
You may fire someone for a completely legitimate reason, but the person can take it as discrimination and file a lawsuit. You can prevent this from happening by having discipline policies in place and documenting everyone’s infractions. You can also have workers sign a release form before being hired stating that they will not file discrimination lawsuits in the event that they are fired. You can make it more attractive for someone to sign a document like that if you offer a severance package. Wrongful termination lawsuits are difficult to fight. They can also eat up a bunch of resources, so it is always preferable to avoid them entirely if you can. Follow the laws to protect your business from any detrimental cases.
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.