Many employers today think that they can do everything they want with their employees, especially in states that allow at-will employments. One of the many authorities that these employers claim is the power to terminate their employees at any given time within the duration of an at-will employment. This may be possible in cases where the employer has faithfully followed the conditions of the contract.
However, under federal law, employers are not allowed to terminate any employee for failure of performing a given work which is considered a violation of public policy. Following are some public policy violations that prohibit employers from terminating their workers:
- Commanding an employee to take a morally wrong action â If the employee gets fired and he files a complaint against the employer, the latter would possibly face two issues â wrongfully terminating the employee, and getting involved in an illegal activity.
- Firing a worker who has reported an illegal activity of the company â When a company worker reports an illegal activity within the company to the authorities, he would be placed in a protected state. This means the employer cannot do anything against the employee or his employment.
- Terminating an employee because of filing family and medical leaves for the aid of his family â Employees are entitled to file family leaves with their employers in case of child birth, or a sick family member needs money for operation.
- Retaliating against employees who have filed a complaint against them â If an employee reports any kind of employment violation against the employer such as harassment, discrimination, or abuse, the employer is prohibited from taking any retaliatory actions against the employee, even if the initial complaint was unsupported.
If you are an employer and you want to fire an at-will employee, make sure that your action would be based on legal factors. If your reasons for terminating an employee are illegal, he may file a wrongful termination lawsuit against you. It is difficult to defend such a case because your discharge letter would be used as evidence against you.
If you want to build a law-abiding company with a skilled and effective workforce, avoid committing public policy violations against your employees. By maintaining a transparent and mutual relationship between you and your employees, your company would eventually grow into an established business with a reliable workforce.