In most instances, employment is considered to be "at will," which means that an employer can fire an employee for any reason or no reason at all. One way to try to limit an employer's right to terminate an employee is to enter into an employment contract. These documents can cover a wide variety of issues, including salary, benefits, paid time off and limitations on the employee's behavior post-termination.
Yet, simply because an employment contract is in place does not mean that an employee cannot be fired. In fact, all too often employers break these contracts. Sometimes it is due to a personal vendetta, other times it is because the company believes that it can benefit from breaking ties with an employee. Regardless, those who are subject to an employment contract and are fired by their employer need to carefully understand the extent of their contract and whether it was breached. Depending on the circumstances, an employee may be able to bring a lawsuit against an employer for both breach of contract and wrongful termination.
Wrongful termination can take many forms, but most often includes some sort of discrimination, harassment or violation of an employment contract. It is important to note that an employment contract, although often written and signed by all parties involved, may also be verbal in nature. Those who believe they have been wrongfully terminated may want to consider negotiating a severance package, which may include continued health insurance coverage and compensation. It is critical to carefully negotiate these packages, though, as failing to do so could result in premature cessation of any benefits, particularly if continuation of them is contingent upon new employment.
Being unexpectedly laid off can throw an individual's life into disarray. However, those who have been party to an employment contract may be able to take legal action to ensure that they protect their legal right to compensation for wrongful termination. Those who would like assistance handling one of these claims should think about discussing the matter with a qualified employment law attorney.