Losing a job is never easy. However, if you get terminated for reasons that are illegal, you might have a basis for taking action against your employer. Understanding how wrongful termination works is very important here. Read on as we discuss what the employment law in Maryland says about being wrongfully terminated and what you can do about it.
What Is Wrongful Termination?
Wrongful termination happens when your employer violates state or federal law when letting you go from your job. It can also take place when an employer violates an employment contract when terminating an employee.
The laws for a wrongful or illegal termination are different from state to state. For this blog post we’ll be speaking from the point of view of Maryland employment law.
What Are the Reasons Behind a Wrongful or Illegal Termination?
Under Maryland employment law, most employees are employed on an “at-will” basis. This means that an employee can be terminated for any reason or no reason, as long as it is legal. The at-will clause in an employment contract also allows employees to resign from their job whenever they want.
According to Maryland employment law, an employer cannot terminate an employee based on their race, sex (including pregnancy and sexual harassment), gender identity, ancestry, national origin, citizenship, religion, physical or mental disability, age, military service, sexual orientation, or marital status.
The employment laws also state that it is wrong for an employer to retaliate against an employee who exercises certain rights. For instance, if an employee files a complaint with a company’s HR department about being sexually harassed, it is illegal for an employer to discipline or fire him or her for filing the complaint.
You as an employee can file a claim for wrongful termination in the following instances:
- There has been a breach of contract
- You have been subjected to employment discrimination
- You were asked to do something illegal
- A public policy was violated
- If you were fired for reporting illegal behaviors and or actions that violate state laws (whistleblowing)
- You were subjected to a constructive discharge
With respect to a breach of contract, this applies to both written and implied contracts. According to Maryland employment law, an oral statement from an employer can create an implied contract in some instances. For example, if you were told that you will not be terminated unless your employer has just cause to fire you, this could form an implied contract. Similarly, statements in employee handbooks and manuals can also create an implied contract if the employer did not properly include a disclaimer.
How Do Public Policy Violations Work?
We mentioned that an employer cannot fire an employee if it violates public policy. Understanding how public policy violations occur is important here. To provide you with a brief overview, employers cannot terminate an employee if they:
- Are being fired solely in retaliation for filing a claim for workers’ compensation
- Were unable to appear at work due to military service or jury duty
- Refused to do something illegal as per their employer’s request or instructions
- Refused to work in a potentially unsafe or unhealthy environment that violates the Occupational Safety and Health Act
- Asserted their legal right and asked to be paid for working overtime
- Asserted their legal right and asked to be compensated at least minimum wage as per the Fair Labor Standards Act
Public policy violations also can occur if an employer violates federal government laws such as the Family and Medical Leave Act. For example, if an employee is terminated while on medical leave, they might have a claim for wrongful termination under the FMLA.
What Can You Do About a Wrongful Termination According to Maryland Employment Law?
If you feel you were wrongfully terminated, seek legal advice from an employment attorney in Maryland. Also we recommend reviewing the reasons for your termination before you proceed to file a claim for wrongful termination. You can:
- Review federal or state laws to determine whether you have been wrongfully terminated.
- Read through your contract and understand the terms and conditions of your employment agreement to see if there is a violation regarding wages, overtime payments, discrimination, sexual harassment, and commission disputes.
- Gather any evidence such as documentation, conversations or written communications that can support your claim.
In addition, filing a successful wrongful termination claim can lead to several favorable outcomes for you as an employee. These include:
- Recovering back pay, salary, and benefits
- Reinstate you to your previous position
- Compensate you for additional damages for pain and suffering (emotional damages), legal fees, and punitive damages
The outcomes of your claim will depend on the type and severity of damage suffered by an employee.
Hire an Employment Attorney to File a Claim
If you have been wrongfully terminated, get in touch with our employment lawyers at Luchansky Law. Our qualified employment attorneys can help you figure out whether you have a legal basis for a wrongful termination claim. They can provide you with all the information you need on Maryland employment law, assist you in navigating the legal system and offer legal representation to recover the damages you are looking for.
Reach out to us today to learn more.