If you’ve been fired from your job, how do you know if the termination was legal or illegal (called “wrongful termination”)? Most employment is “at will,” which means an employee may be fired at any time and for any reason or for no reason at all (as long as the reason is not illegal). But there are some important exceptions to the at-will rule—and legal remedies—that may help you keep your job or sue your former employer for wrongful termination.
If you have a written contract or other statement that promises you job security, you have a strong argument that you are not an at-will employee. For example, you may have an employment contract stating that you can only be fired with good cause or for reasons stated in the contract. Or, you may have an offer letter or other written document that makes promises about your continued employment. If so, you might be able to enforce those promises in court. For help determining whether you were an at-will employee, see Nolo’s article Employment at Will: What Does It Mean?.
The existence of an implied employment contract—an agreement based on things your employer said and did—is another exception to the at-will rule. This can be difficult to prove because most employers are very careful not to make promises of continued employment. But implied contracts have been found where employers promised “permanent employment” or employment for a specific period of time or where employers set forth specific forms of progressive discipline in an employee manual.
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