By Ellis Bennett, Partner, DBL

What are some possible defenses against a wrongful termination claim?

Most employees are considered “at-will,” meaning that an employer can terminate the employment at any time and for any reason. Likewise, an at-will employee can leave a job at whim. Nonetheless, there are some grounds on which it is unlawful to fire an employee. Terminating an employee based on a protected factor such as age, race, gender, or disability is strictly prohibited. Further, it is unlawful to terminate an employee as retaliation for filing a claim against the employer. If you’ve been charged with wrongful termination as an employer, it is important that you secure the assistance of an employment litigation attorney to defend against these serious claims.

What is Wrongful Termination?

Wrongful termination occurs when an employer fires an employee for an illegal reason. Under federal and state employment discrimination laws, employees cannot be fired for discriminatory reasons or for taking lawful action against your company. Wrongful termination cases can have serious consequences for an employer, potentially resulting in financial loss, negative publicity, and much more. Therefore, it is critical that any employer charged with wrongful termination take steps to protect themselves.

Employer Defenses Against Wrongful Termination Claims

One of the best ways to defend against these types of claims is to prevent them before they ever occur. As an employer, you can ward off the possibility of a wrongful termination case by observing the following:

 

  • Have policies and procedures in place: You should have clear and concise policies in place within your employee handbook. Policies should address discipline and dismissal of at-will employees.
  • Train managers and supervisors: Be sure your managers and supervisors are trained to carry out your written disciplinary procedures, including documenting any and all disciplinary action taken against an employee.
  • Create a paper trail: Thorough documentation of any employee violations could help to avoid a lawsuit. Keep a record of any disciplinary action against an employee and a written record of performance issues.  Ensure all employees are subject to your uniform and consistent standards.

 

Your defense against a charge of wrongful termination will vary depending on the allegations and the facts surrounding the case. The basis of your defense will be built upon demonstrating a lawful, non-discriminatory or retaliatory reason for the employee’s firing. Your employment litigation attorney will assist you in compiling evidence to combat an employee’s claims of wrongful termination.

The attorneys at Dunlap Bennett & Ludwig will leverage their years of experience in employment law to guide you through the process should you find yourself in a wrongful termination case. Contact us today to ensure you have all the information you need.

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Posted in: Employment Law