Many people think that because Indiana is an “employment-at-will” state that you can be fired for any reason (or no reason at all) by your employer. This assumption is not accurate, as there are a lot of exceptions to the “at-will” status of employees. To terminate an employee under these exceptional circumstances would constitute “wrongful termination,” which may result in filing a lawsuit against the employer.
Federal And State Laws Against Discrimination And Civil Rights Infractions
State, Local, and Federal laws prohibit firing due to discrimination and civil rights infractions. It is not legal to fire someone because of their age, religion, race, country of origin, sex, or mental or physical disability. This is clearly a violation of federal law.
If you feel that you might have been fired because of one or more of these reasons, you should consult with an experienced Greenwood wrongful termination attorney and learn how they can help you to take action against the employer. There is a certain time limit on pursuing these matters, so do not put it off, if legal action is something you want to consider.
Civic Duties And Responsibilities
If carrying out your civic duties and responsibilities interferes with your work schedule, it is possible that your employer may not be able to fire you for missing time off work while you carry these responsibilities out.
For example, if you have been summoned for jury duty or as a witness in court, you cannot be fired for taking time off work for these events. The same is true for the family members of active military. Employers are required by law to provide ten days of unpaid leave each year for family members of those serving our country. These family members include siblings, parents, grandparents, and spouses of our folks in uniform.
Retaliation Against Whistleblowers
The fear of being fired is the main reason why people shy away from being “whistleblowers” and revealing illegal or unethical practices at their place of employment. They cannot be terminated for refusing to participate in illegal activities at the direction of their employer. Similarly, they cannot be let go for reporting safety risks or complaining about being put into unsafe or illegal situations.
If an employee decides to testify that the employer was discriminatory in their hiring or firing practices, according to law, that employee cannot be fired for their testimony.
In the state of Indiana, it is illegal to fire workers that are attempting to organize, join, or form a labor union. This includes those employees that are working towards collective bargaining. These circumstances often evolve into a sensitive issue, since employees are organizing against the employer in many cases.
Claims And Complaints
An employer may sometimes fire someone for filing a claim or a complaint against the employer. Here are a few circumstances to review where it is illegal to terminate employment for these individuals.
- Filing a workers’ compensation claim, which is within a person’s legal rights
- Initiating an FMLA claim, according to the Family Medical Leave Act
- Filing a legal complaint concerning overtime, child labor, or minimum wage
- Filing an OSHA complaint concerning unsafe or unsanitary conditions in the workplace
- Claiming pension benefits to which you are entitled and have been promised
- Claims under the EEOC job discrimination parameters, and within federal law
What If I Have A Contract?
If a contract exists between employer and employee, where one party is offering employment and the other party is accepting the terms of that employment, then it is possible that an employer can be sued for breach of contract if the employment is terminated even though the employee has complied with the agreement.
Some would argue that certain language included in employee handbooks, such as “three strikes and you’re out,” would indicate that you would not be fired after one “strike.” Going against the language in the employee handbook could be considered a breach of contract, and thus a wrongful termination.
Does My Boss Need To Explain Why He Fired Me?
This one is a bit tricky. You would hope that an employer would have the courtesy to tell you why you were let go, but you never know what you’ll be up against.
Basically, if he or she is required a written application before he or she hired you, then in some cases he or she needs to give you a signed statement listing the reasons you were terminated.
What Should I Do If I’m Being Treated Unfairly At Work?
Probably one of the most important things you can do in a situation where you feel you are being treated unfairly, or even illegally, is to keep a faithful account of events. Be sure that you take note of the specifics around the unfair or illegal treatment.
A written record takes the guesswork out of recalling events. Having this on hand will serve you well and can help your attorney bring an action if necessary.
How Do I Go About Starting A Lawsuit Against My Employer?
One of the first things you will want to do is to find a top-rated Greenwood wrongful termination law firm like Henn, Haworth, Cummings, & Page that practices labor law/employment law. Once you find your lawyer, they will be able to give you advice on the case. An experienced attorney will know all the ins and outs of a case like yours, and they will be able to give you the honest and aggressive advice you need.
There is no reason why living in a state with a policy of “at-will” employment should mean that you have your rights, or the law of the land, violated. If you have been discriminated against, or feel like you have been illegally fired, you have the right to recourse through the legal system.
This is where the qualified lawyers of Henn, Haworth, Cummings, & Page can help. Make an appointment today and see if you have a case against your employer. We’ll evaluate the information you provide and see if we can work together to gain justice. Your first consultation is free!