Wrongful termination is a serious offense involving firing an employee for an unlawful reason. The situation can prove tiresome and frustrating, but it can be remedied– unless, of course, the termination was not actually illegal. The following list describes seven situations that may seem wrongful, but are not likely actionable absent extenuating discriminatory or unlawful circumstances.
7. Chronic Lateness or Absence: Ohio is an employment-at-will state. Therefore, Ohio business owners may fire employees for habitually ignoring start times or failing to show up to work at all.
However, if the employee’s tardiness or attendance issues are related to caring for an ill family member or personal health problems, the employee’s termination may be illegal under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) or the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA).
6. Lack of Qualifications: An employer can fire an employee for lacking the qualifications necessary for a particular job, especially if the employee embellished his or her credentials on a resume. With little exception, this is a lawful and permissible reason to terminate an employee, especially if the sub-par performance is placing others in danger.
5. Mistreatment of Others: An employee who cannot “play well in the sandbox” may soon find himself out of a job – and likely without recourse. Moreover, an employee who engages in harassing mistreatment of co-workers or subordinates will risk termination, as liability for this behavior could be imposed upon the employer in the event of a harassment or discrimination lawsuit.
4. Theft, fraud, or other criminal acts: It goes without saying that an employee who steals from the office or fudges financial reports will not only be fired, but may also face criminal culpability. An employee likely has no recourse if he or she is terminated for engaging in this type of behavior. The employee may also be required to repay the stolen assets in the event that the employer makes a claim or files a criminal charge.
3. Inability to perform job tasks: This category is much more nuanced, and the general rule actually states that a covered employer cannot fire an employee who is unable to perform a job task due to a disability if the employee is otherwise qualified and able to perform the task with a reasonable accommodation.
The employer maintains certain rights as well, and is generally not required to accommodate an employee’s disability if doing so would be unreasonable or dangerous to other workers.
2. Elimination of the Position: It is not uncommon to face termination simply due to an elimination of positions, which is also known as ‘downsizing’ or a ‘lay off’. Companies often downsize to avoid bankruptcy or going out of business altogether, and the act is completely legal – provided it is not designed to cover up underlying discrimination or retaliation.
1. No Reason at All: Believe it or not, an employer can fire any employee (except those under tenure or an employment contract) for absolutely no reason at all. While this scenario is difficult to imagine, it is likely just as difficult for an employee to successfully litigate. Keep in mind, however, an employer who can’t or won’t articulate his reasons for firing an employee likely doesn’t have a proper motive.