Thursday, February 22, 2007

When does a firing not equal a lawsuit?

More often than not, a termination of employment is completely lawful and cannot be challenged in court. Employees who are fired for legitimate reasons, such as misconduct at work, poor attendance, downsizing, etc., have no recourse to court.

Even some employees who are fired for dumb reasons, for example, so that the boss can hire a family member, or because they have a personality conflict with their boss, have no recourse in court.

The at-will employment rule means that employees are only protected from a "wrongful discharge" if their case fits into the of the exceptions described in the posts below.

Saturday, February 3, 2007

So, What makes a good lawsuit?

Since most employees are "at-will," when can employees sue their employer when they think they have been wrongly fired?

Most employees must be able to fit their situations into one of the at will exceptions discussed in the previous post. For example, an employee who takes an FMLA leave has the right to return to his position so long as his doctor clears him to return to work within 12 weeks of taking the leave. An employee who is fired six weeks into their medical leave may have a strong claim that her employer violated the FMLA. Or, an employee is fired for refusing her boss' sexual advances. This is the classic example of sexual harassment. Sexual Harassment in Michigan is prohibited by both Federal and state law.

Employees usually must also suffer lost wages as a result of the employer's action to have a good lawsuit. A long period of unemployment or the necessity of taking a lower paying job leads to a claim for lost wages.