One issue many employees do not have a full understanding of is Minnesota’s at-will employment policies. Under the law, employees can leave their jobs for any reason they want, and employers can fire them for most reasons without consequence. Working as an at-will employee does not mean workers do not have any job protection. Though the law gives employers the right to terminate employees whenever they want for any reason, they cannot violate the employee's rights to do so.
Keep in mind that all employers do not follow the law when firing workers. Wrongful terminations happen every day in Minnesota and across the country. For an employee termination to be unlawful, several factors must be present.
Employment contract breaches and violations
Employment contracts outline the expectations of employer and worker. Once an employer and worker enter into a contract, it becomes legally binding. That means that if the worker violates certain conditions of the contract, her or his employer can legally terminate employment. However, if an employer fires a worker and the termination causes a breach in the employment contract, it is very likely the worker could file a wrongful termination claim.
Retaliation for protected actions
Under federal law, workers have employment rights that all employers must uphold. These rights serve to protect them from unfair, inhuman and discriminatory treatment. Wrongful termination can occur when an employer fires a worker for reporting illegal and unsanctioned actions, filing harassment reports, participating in local and federal investigations and basically adverse actions that would fall under the Whistleblower Protection Act of 1989.
Employment law is not easy for the average worker to understand. Proving one is the victim of a wrongful termination is often an uphill battle. It is important for employees to keep copies of all work documentation and both document and report behaviors and actions that go against their employment rights. Depending on the details and severity of the claim, wrongfully terminated employees may receive punitive damages in addition to their lost wages and emotional distress.