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Can an at-will worker be a victim of wrongful termination?

While Michigan is considered to be an at-will employment state, this does not mean that an employer is off the hook for terminating an employee under discriminatory or otherwise improper circumstances. While many people may associate being wrongfully fired from a job with discrimination, other factors may also be involved. If you feel as though you have been the victim of a wrongful termination from an at-will employment, it is important to be aware of what may constitute such a discharge.

At-will employment refers to an employer's ability to terminate a worker's employment without having to a give a reason or prior notice. However, workers in the United States are protected by federal anti-discrimination laws. These laws protect you from being discriminated against, based upon various factors, including race, sex and even age. Any termination based upon a factor protected by these anti-discrimination laws is illegal, even in an at-will position.

Aside from discrimination, retaliation by an employer for a variety of reasons, such as reporting a substantial safety or workplace infraction, can also constitute a wrongful discharge. Additionally, other forms of wrongful termination can include the termination of an employee whose contract was not up yet, the loss of a job over taking time off or even the refusal to perform an illegal act. Even violating the written standard for termination can violate an employee’s rights.

Simply because Michigan is considered to be at-will in term’s of employment and can fire an employee without just cause, this does not mean that employers have a free pass to act in such a way that violates the rights of their employees. If you have been the victim of a wrongful termination by means of discriminatory practices or other improper acts, then it is possible to seek compensation for damages through the litigation of a wrongful termination claim against your former employer. In some instances, it may first be necessary to file a complaint with either the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission or with a similar state or local agency.

Source: FindLaw, "Was I Wrongfully Discharged From My Job?", , Aug. 22, 2014

Source: FindLaw, "Was I Wrongfully Discharged From My Job?", , Aug. 22, 2014

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