Wrongful termination is a term that is used frequently but few actually understand its legal meaning. In Ohio, your employment is considered “at-will.” This means an employer can fire/terminate and/or discipline an employee at any time, for any reason, at any time, including a bad or unfair reason or even no reason at all. The only employees who are not considered “at-will” employees are certain government employees, those who have employment contracts, or those union employees who are subject to a collective bargaining agreement.
If you have questions about whether you may be subject to an employment contract, call one of our Columbus wrongful termination lawyer today.
Now that we have explained what “at-will” means, could my termination still be considered unlawful or discriminatory (wrongful)? Yes. There are a variety of laws in Ohio that prohibit wrongful termination based on illegal reasons, such as discrimination based on disability, sex, religion, pregnancy and race. Ohio’s laws protect employees against these types of discrimination, as do federal laws. Ohio’s laws also protect employees from retaliation, another form of wrongful termination. Employers are prohibited from retaliating against employees who engage in specific types of “protected activity.” For more information on Ohio retaliation lawsuits, please read this post: Can My Employer Retaliate Against Me?
Confusion Regarding the Term “Wrongful Termination”
The term “wrongful termination” is just another way of saying termination based on illegal factors, like discrimination or retaliation. For instance, you may have a wrongful termination claim based on pregnancy discrimination but there is no claim for “wrongful termination” generally- it must be based on some type of unlawful activity. Employees often see the term wrongful termination and think it means that an employer cannot terminate someone for unfair reasons or reasons that do not make sense to the employee. This is not so. For a termination to be considered “wrongful,” it must actually be illegal- not just unfair. All employees who are unsure if their termination could be classified as wrongful should call our office. Our Columbus employment lawyers are standing by to answer your questions.
Types of “Wrongful” or Illegal Termination
Unlawful termination can take many forms. Some examples include termination based on race, disability, FMLA use, pregnancy, religious beliefs or practices and gender. Other examples include retaliatory termination for opposing discrimination (of yourself or someone else) or participating in an investigation regarding allegations of discrimination. If you complain about the fact that your employer is not paying you overtime and you are fired shortly after, you may have a wrongful termination claim. Our Columbus overtime lawyers will tell you if your claim has merit. To learn more about impermissible and illegal reasons for termination, visit our FAQ page for more information or call our office for a free consultation.