Employers can typically fire people for any reason or even no reason at all. Both Georgia and Alabama are at-will employment states. That means that employers can terminate someone’s job with no warning and no explanation, although they often still have to abide by the terms of any employment contract involved.
However, working in an at-will state still does not give your employer the right to fire you for an illegal reason. Understanding what constitutes wrongful termination can help you fight back against an inappropriate firing.
A wrongful termination violates a worker’s rights
The difference between a wrongful and appropriate termination is often the motivation for the decision. A company can let go of multiple workers at once to lower its costs without repercussions. However, if they target specific workers for reasons that don’t line up with the law, that’s a wrongful termination. For example, letting only the Hispanic workers go would point toward a racial motive for the company’s actions.
One of the most common forms of wrongful termination is retaliation. For example, imagine that a worker reports harassment or discrimination on the job or they file a claim for worker’s compensation — or maybe they refuse to do something illegal at their employer’s behest. All of a sudden, their employer fires them. Companies should not discipline or otherwise penalize employees for engaging in protected activities. Those protected activities include reporting an injury on the job, claiming medical benefits, fighting discrimination and reporting harassment or illegal activity.
You can fight back against wrongful terminations
Even if your employer tried to create some flimsy excuse for the termination, you may recognize the real reason based on your recent interactions with management or human resources. Understanding if your termination might be wrongful is the first step toward standing up for your rights as a worker.