McNamee Hosea News & Press


When is a Termination Considered Wrongful?

Getting fired can be a devastating experience for an employee, but firing an employee can also be a difficult decision for an employer to make. It is a decision that is generally not made lightly. An employer may have to let someone go based on the employee's behavior or performance, or it may be necessary based on the best interests of the company.

Because a termination can be so upsetting, it is not uncommon for an employee to disagree with an employer's decision. In many cases, workers may feel as though they are the victims of a wrongful termination and decide to pursue a claim against the employer. In these situations, it can be crucial for all parties to understand the difference between a lawful and unlawful termination.

There are a number of complicated descriptions, terms and laws that govern employment practices, and they can be relevant to some or all workers. In this post, we are looking at the wrongful termination laws and how they affect "at will" employees specifically. Most workers in Maryland are at-will employees, which means that they can be fired for any or no reason, as long as it is not illegal. 

However, if there is reason to believe that an employer fired an at will worker illegally, there may be grounds for a employee claim of wrongful termination. To have a valid claim, a worker must show that a firing was based on:

  • Discrimination
  • Retaliation
  • An employee's complaint about workplace safety
  • Violations of public policy

Claims of an illegal firing should be taken very seriously. In many cases, it is difficult for an at will employee to file a claim in the event of termination, but that is not to say it cannot and does not happen. Employers should consider speaking with an attorney in order to understand their rights and take steps to protect themselves if a claim is ultimately filed. 

As we mentioned earlier, there are many complex issues that are involved in wrongful terminationlawsuits. Without the help of an attorney, it can be very difficult to know what to expect and how to best defend against claims.

Source: National Conference of State Legislatures, "The At-Will Presumption and Exceptions to the Rule