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When firing a worker is wrongful termination

| May 26, 2021 | Unemployment Law |

Most workers in Kansas and around the country are at-will employees. This means that their employers can fire them at any time and for any or no reason without facing any legal consequences. However, there are situations when firing a worker either violates federal or state law or breaches the terms of a contract of employment. In these situations, terminated workers may pursue civil remedies by filing wrongful termination claims.

Illegal termination

Workers are protected against unfair treatment by federal laws like the 1964 Civil Rights Act and the 1967 Age Discrimination in Employment Act as well as state laws like the 2012 Kansas Act Against Discrimination. Among other things, these laws make it illegal to fire a worker because of their race, religion, gender, age or national origin. When these laws are violated, workers in Kansas who are fired unfairly can file claims with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission or the Kansas Human Rights Commission. Terminating workers in retaliation for filing sexual harassment claims, joining a union or reporting criminal activity is also illegal.

Breach of contract

Firing a worker can also lead to legal action when the termination breaches a contract of employment. These contracts usually contain provisions that state employees can only be fired for cause and list reasons for terminating the agreement. These reasons often include committing willful misconduct, revealing trade secrets, stealing or deliberately damaging company property. Contracts of employment may also place restrictions on workers who resign. This is why it may be a good idea to have these contracts checked by an experienced employment law attorney.

Wrongful termination claims

Terminated workers are sometimes asked to sign severance agreements that require them to waive their right to seek legal redress. Attorneys may advise workers not to sign such agreements, and they might also explain the process for filing a wrongful termination claim and the deadlines that must be met. Attorneys may advocate on behalf of fired workers during wrongful termination hearings. During these hearings, attorneys might seek to have the workers’ employment restored or pursue damages to compensate the workers for their lost income.