Articles Posted in Wrongful Termination

A recent national journalistic piece counselled employers about firing employees.  Many employers need the advice.  Employers can be ruthless when they decide they want to remove an employee – regardless of the employee’s tenure or devotion to the firm.

The journalist’s coaching was not directed towards the subject of fairness towards the employees.  Rather, the theme was concerned protection employers from former employee lawsuits.

The first employer protection issue, naturally, focused on the “at-will” employment doctrine.  People believe that “at-will” employment is the standard across the nation.  Most employees probably are “at-will.”  It means they may be terminated for any reason or terminated or no reason.

Many people have experienced their employer’s abuse.  The abuse may take the form of verbal humiliations and disgrace, demotion, dismissal from employment and replacement by a younger, less experienced and less costly employee or coercion to work for reduce or no compensation or benefits.

Employers justify their antics by citing weak demand in an anemic economy.  Oddly, most people fail to protest or fight back.  After all, the employer has the leverage in the employment relationship.

In many employment relationships the employer hires an employee as an “at-will” employee who could be fired or demoted for any reason or no reason.  At the same time, the employers often induce prospective employees by providing them with a handbook delineating fairness procedures including progressive discipline with warnings and evaluations to keep the employee posted on his or her status.

Money damages for “whistleblowers” have become more common in recent years, in part because the Obama administration has emphasized prosecution of company and hospital officials who benefitted from their false claims for federal payments or reimbursements.

Private whistleblowers have also received monetary awards for exposing wrongful or illegal activities of their corporate employers. In the federal realm, the “False Claims Act” prohibits contractors from seeking payments or reimbursements for goods or services delivered to the government.  The law was enacted during the Lincoln administration in order to penalize companies seeking reimbursement or payments for military goods for the U. S. effort in the Civil War.   Continue reading →