Most employment in the United States falls under the category of at-will employment, meaning companies can fire workers for any reasons that are not due to certain discriminatory practices. While at-will employment makes it difficult to move forth with litigation for wrongful termination, it's important to understand the basic facts surrounding your termination.
Some employees are contract workers whose contracts specify the reasons for which their employers may fire them. In those cases, if their employment is terminated without cause, they may be able to file suit for arbitrary discharge.
Wrongful termination can also be alleged when someone is let go due to whistleblowing activities or for refusing to break the law.
In some cases, a terminated worker may sue the employer for wrongful discharge if they are able to prove that an implied contract for employment was in place. Most, but not all employment contracts are written. But an implied contract is sometimes entered into by the worker and his or her employer.
There's no doubt that implied contracts are harder to prove. They can be verbal agreements by an employer that a worker's job is secure. An email could potentially document the verbal contract, and supporting evidence could include stellar performance reviews and promotions.
Because substantiating these types of claims is so difficult, terminated workers with implied or verbal contracts of employment usually will need to retain an attorney who is well-versed in employment law in order to successfully resolve the claim in their favor. Even when a termination is ultimately upheld, having an attorney advocate on your behalf can sometimes allow you to leave with a "golden parachute" that can make it well worth your while.
Source: glassdoor, "Everything You Need to Know About Wrongful Termination," Heather Huhman, accessed May 27, 2016