“Wrongful termination” is a broad term encompassing any employment termination or discharge that the law deems to be illegal. Our lawyers are experienced in dealing with all kinds of legal issues affecting individuals and businesses in the employer-employee relationship. Although the “employment-at-will” doctrine generally allows employers to fire an employee for any reason, good or bad, fair or unfair, it does not permit employers to fire employees for an illegal reason—that is, a reason that has been made illegal by federal or state law. In addition, employers may not fire someone for complaining about being the victim of illegal discrimination.
When an employee contacts us after or just before being fired, one of the first questions we ask is whether the termination is based on conduct or characteristics that are protected under the law, such as age, race, national origin, pregnancy, gender, and other statuses that have been protected from the employment-at-will doctrine by Congress and state legislatures.
While the protected classes of persons covered under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA), the ADA Amendments Act of 2008 (ADAAA), and similar state statutes make up a large portion of protected employees, other employees may be protected from discharge or adverse employer actions depending on the circumstances. Various public policies protect employees from wrongful termination in Cincinnati for engaging in certain protected conduct. An employee may not be fired for serving jury duty, for example, or in many other cases where a clear public policy would be threatened if employees could be discharged for engaging in the specific conduct. Retaliatory discharge for reporting a company’s illegal conduct may be prohibited by public policy and by specific whistleblower statutes. Reporting abuse in a nursing home or medical facility, or reporting environmental hazards to the EPA, may give rise to protection for employees.
However, you must be very careful not to assume that the conduct you are considering engaging in, or have already engaged in, is protected under the law. Many employees wrongly assume they cannot be fired for complaining about certain conduct, or reporting certain conduct to higher management. The fact is, the conduct protected under the law is rather narrow, and it is not usually obvious to an employee whether or not the specific conduct at issue will be protected by Ohio or federal courts.
In some situations, it is crucial that an employee follow precise reporting requirements in order to protect against being terminated for reporting an employer’s wrongful conduct. For example, if you report certain illegal conduct to a certain government agency, your reporting might be protected, whereas if you report the same conduct to your supervisor, or to someone else, you may not be protected; you may even be fired for making such a report. The only way to know for sure and to adequately protect yourself is to contact a knowledgeable lawyer who is well-versed in wrongful termination in Cincinnati about your specific circumstances.
If you believe you may have been wrongfully terminated, you may contact our law firm to discuss your options with an experienced lawyer. We can tell you if you have been illegally terminated, and help you obtain a just resolution of your situation.