Losing your employment in any situation can be stressful and disheartening. In some cases, though, your termination may also fall into another category: wrongful termination. Did your employer end your employment illegally?
What is wrongful termination?
While Ohio is an at-will employment state, meaning that the employer or employee can terminate the employment relationship at any time and for almost any reason. However, a few reasons are exempt from this rule: discrimination or retaliation.
If an employer terminates your employment because of your race, religion, age, disability status or other attributes protected by law, that termination would be a form of discrimination. This can include subtler actions like terminating a disproportionate number of employees who fall under a protected class during layoffs.
In other cases, employers may terminate a worker’s employment because they recently took a protected action. This would include:
- Filing a complaint about harassment
- Taking protected medical leave
- Requesting a reasonable accommodation in the workplace
- Reporting illegal activity
- Filing for workers’ compensation benefits after an injury
Even if employers claim that the firing was actually related to poor performance or misconduct, an employer’s motivation matters. For example, an employee who suddenly received poor performance reviews after taking a protected action and was fired as a result of those recent reviews might have experienced retaliation.
If you believe that retaliation or discrimination was the true motivation for your termination, it is possible to pursue justice. Collecting evidence like emails and statements from coworkers and seeking legal guidance could help you lay the groundwork for a wrongful termination claim. This claim could address the impact that your termination has had on your finances and your career.