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Wrongful termination and at-will employment states

At-will employment means an employer can terminate one's employment for any reason, without notice or justification. Under Michigan state law, it is assumed that a worker is an at-will employee unless he or she has previously signed an agreement with the employer stating that he or she can only be fired for cause.

Typical employment contracts include a start time, compensation and benefits. Those contracts may contain other provisions such as a non-compete clause, confidentiality agreement, exclusive employment, ownership of inventions, compensation limits, termination, arbitration, and choice of law in the event a dispute arises.

Even at-will employment workers have the right not to be fired based upon discrimination or sexual harassment. If he or she has been fired because of ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, disability, age, pregnancy, country of origin, or gender identity or other protected status, an employer may be the subject of a wrongful termination suit.

Wrongful termination lawsuits can occur even when a written contract has not been signed. An example of when this might be an option is in a situation in which evidence of an implied contract can be produced. In this case, the inherent wrongful termination could be justified by demonstrating that there was a breach of contract due to early termination of employment.

Just as is the case with an at-will employee still qualifying to file a wrongful termination lawsuit, filing one on the grounds of employer retaliation is also a valid reason. Retaliation as a result of he or she being a whistleblower, or failing to perform illegal requests, may also be grounds for taking legal action as well.

The victim of a wrongful termination may be entitled to a number of damages. These include different types of compensation such as back pay, reinstatement, promotion, future pay, compensatory and punitive damages, injunctive relief, special accommodations and attorney's fees.

If you suspect you have been the victim of wrongful termination, you may consider seeking the advice of an experienced Michigan employment law attorney. Not only may it be helpful in understanding more about the state's at-will employment laws, but in discussing your case, you can learn about the many available legal options that may be at your disposal.

Source: FindLaw.com, "At-will employee FAQ's," accessed Jan. 12, 2017

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