Termination is a possibility for every person in every occupation. In most work arrangements, parties can quit or be legally fired for any reason, or for no reason at all. That said, a firing can be wrongful if it violates a worker’s legal rights.
If you are at risk of being fired or have recently been let go, you should know about certain red flags that could signal a wrongful termination.
State and federal laws protect workers from retaliation or adverse actions against someone for participating in protected activities.
Thus, it could be suspicious if your employer fires you soon after you:
- Make a complaint about harassment or discrimination;
- Refuse to engage in illegal activity;
- Report an unsafe work environment;
- Use FMLA leave; or
- Request a religious or disability-related accommodation.
Employees have the right to participate in these activities without fear of retaliation. If an employer still fires a worker after these actions, they can face legal and financial consequences.
Fabricated workplace or performance issues
In some cases, employers or managers know they want to terminate a worker unlawfully, so they manufacture issues and pin the blame on the employee.
For example, they might falsely accuse you of failing to meet performance standards or violating workplace policies. They might make up new rules for you that are impossible to follow, then fire you when you inevitably slip up.
A termination can be unlawful if it is discriminatory. In other words, if an employer fires you for something that they did not fire others for, it could be a red flag that you are a victim of discrimination (assuming you are also a member of a protected class).
Per Minnesota laws, protected classes include:
- Disability status
- Marital status
- Sexual orientation
- Gender identity
- Familial status
It can also be a red flag if your boss changes their reasons for terminating you. This inconsistency could suggest an employer is lying to cover up wrongdoing. For that reason, it is important to get the employer to put the “true reason for the termination” in writing, thus locking them in to their rationale.
Wrongful termination is a serious legal matter. While the existence of a red flag is not always evidence of a wrongful termination, knowing what to look for can help you protect your job and your rights.