Wrongful Termination Checklist: Everything You Need to Know
A wrongful termination checklist is a systematic process used by an employer to make sure that all state and federal laws are addressed.3 min read
Updated November 5, 2020:
What Is a Wrongful Termination Checklist?
A wrongful termination checklist is a systematic process used by an employer to make sure that all state and federal laws are addressed, and the employer is not left susceptible to a lawsuit by the employee.
A wrongful termination occurs in the following situations:
- An employee is fired due to a violation of state, federal, or local laws.
- The terms set forth in an employment agreement are violated.
- The reason for the termination goes against public policy.
Employees who were fired and do not know if the termination was for unlawful reasons can request a copy of the termination checklist. When going through the checklist, if there is any question on the termination checklist that an employee can answer "yes" to, it's in the employee's best interest to contact a lawyer specializing in employment issues.
What Is the Process for Terminating an Employee?
The employer will determine if all conditions and provisions of the employee's employment have been adhered to by reviewing all documents associated with the employee's employment. This includes both "at-will" and contract employees.
The three areas most often used as reasons for terminating an employee include the following:
- Unsatisfactory attendance
- Unsatisfactory job performance
- Unsatisfactory conduct
An employee may be offered an opportunity to resign, but they will not be eligible to receive unemployment benefits.
What Information Does an Employee Termination Letter Contain?
An employee termination letter should have all pertinent information. It should specify the precise reason for an employee's termination and document all the steps taken to correct any issues before terminating the employee.
Since there are different reasons for terminating an employee, a new letter should be written specifically for each individual situation.
What Is Discrimination?
Federal laws are in place to protect employees from wrongful termination or discrimination due to the following:
- Genetic information
- National origin
- Gender identity or sexuality are also prohibited in several states.
Examples of Discrimination:
- Rude or negative remarks made by the employer.
- A demotion or termination after an employee informs the employer of their pregnancy.
- Being fired after informing the employer of a return to work after taking time off for a pregnancy.
- Terminating an employee who has been verbal about discrimination in the workplace.
What Is Harassment on the Job?
The law not only prevents a termination based on an employee's gender, age, race, national origin, and other categories, but it also prohibits harassment based on such categories.
Comments made to an employee that crosses the boundaries of simple teasing may create a hostile working environment.
What Is Retaliation on the Job?
Employees cannot be fired or punished for their participation in certain practices that are protected by state or federal laws.
Examples of protected practices include an employee reporting fraudulent activities in the company, reporting illegal behavior to applicable agencies, or reporting safety violations to representatives within the company or to outside state or federal law enforcement agencies.
Can an Employee Be Wrongfully Terminated Because of a Disability?
An employee terminated due to their disability should consider whether there were underlying reasons that resulted in a wrongful termination due to a disability.
- Did the termination take place soon after notifying the employer about the disability?
- Were negative remarks being made by a manager or supervisor about a physical or mental disability that led to being fired or demoted?
- Did the firing occur after requesting and/or taking time off due to the disability?
- Did the employer fire the employee after being requested to make reasonable accommodations to provide assistance in the workplace that would allow the employee to continue to do his or her job?
What Is a Breach of Contract?
When an employee is fired and it is in violation of an agreement the employee has with the employer, it can constitute a wrongful termination.
In this case, wrongful termination applies to some employees who have written contracts as well as those who do not have a written contract. In their case, the contract is implied based on an employer's words or actions or detailed content published in the employee handbook.
What Constitutes Whistleblowing on the Job?
An employee fired for refusing to take part in and actively participate in an act condemned by the public policy is considered a whistleblower. An example would be notifying authorities of the fraudulent practices of an employer.
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