Most workers are considered at-will employees. This means that you can be terminated for almost any reason or no reason at all. However, there are still instances in which firing an employee is illegal under state or federal law. Knowing your rights could keep you employed or otherwise hold your employer accountable for its illegal activity.
You Can’t Be Fired for Being Pregnant
Employers are not allowed to fire a worker simply for being pregnant. Even if you miss work because of medical issues related to the pregnancy, your job is generally safe. In fact, employers may have to put you on light duty or allow you to take time off depending on how this event impacts your health.
Employers Generally Can’t Fire Whistleblowers
If you have reason to believe that your manager is doing something illegal, you have the right to alert HR or other supervisors within the organization. Making such a report is protected activity as long as it is made in good faith. Therefore, you cannot be terminated or otherwise retaliated against. In most cases, employers aren’t allowed to reveal your name or other personally identifying information without your permission.
Reporting Harassment Is a Protected Activity
Your employer cannot fire you for reporting sexual or other types of workplace harassment. Generally speaking, you have the ability to report the matter to anyone within the company who you feel comfortable speaking with about it. If you are retaliated against in any way, it may be grounds for a lawsuit or a complaint to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). A failure to investigate the claim in good faith could also be grounds for a lawsuit.
Acting as a Witness Is Generally Protected
If you have witnessed harassment or illegal behavior take place, you cannot be fired for reporting what you have seen. This is true whether you cooperate with an internal investigation or an investigation conducted by outside authorities. In a typical case, anything that you say or do in good faith is protected and cannot be used against you when a company makes future employment decisions.
Those who believe that they have been wrongfully terminated may wish to speak with an attorney. Consulting with wrongful termination lawyers may make it easier to pursue a case or at least help workers learn more about their rights. In some cases, employment law matters may be settled either by going to arbitration or through some other method outside of court.