When an employer fires or lays off an employee, the employee may think there is nothing he or she can do. But that is not always the case. Sometimes, terminations can be unlawful. In legal terms, this is known as wrongful termination.

But how does someone figure out whether a termination is illegal? Here are some examples of firings that may be against the law.

The employment contract requires a cause for termination

Michigan is an “at-will” employment state, meaning that most employers can discharge workers for almost any reason. But some employment agreements require specific causes for ending employment. Common causes in contracts include continuously failing to perform job duties and committing willful misconduct. If such a provision exists but no cause precludes the firing, it may be a wrongful termination.

The firing is a discriminatory act

A termination is wrongful if it the employer does it out of discrimination of an employee because of protected categories, including the following:

  • Race
  • Color
  • Gender
  • Age
  • Disability
  • Religion

Although it may seem archaic, some employers still fire people because of these reasons.

The firing is retaliation

No employee should fear retaliation for partaking in lawful activities such as filing a workers’ compensation claim or reporting illegal conduct. But some employers retaliate against their workers for doing these kinds of things.

The firing is because of a discussion of labor issues

The National Labor Relations Act ensures employees have the right to converse with colleagues about improving working conditions or wages. Employees do not need to be part of a union to have this protection. But it is important to note that this law only protects employees who work together to improve working conditions. The protections may not apply to individual complaints.

Anyone who is a victim of wrongful termination may want to consider filling a lawsuit against his or her former employer.