Maryland, like many other states throughout the nation, is an “at-will” employment state. This means an employee can get fired by their employer, or the employee can resign, for any reason or no reason at all. Unless otherwise established in an employment contract, a person is considered as an at-will employee. However, there may be instances where an employer terminates an employee who believes has been fired for illegal reasons. Despite having clear policies and employment rules, your employee might seek to file a wrongful termination claim against your company.
As an employer you must be aware there are laws protecting employees against wrongful termination based on things like discrimination. Baltimore wrongful termination defense lawyer Ken Gauvey of The Law Practice of Kevin C. Gauvey explains more about how to prepare for a wrongful termination case in the state of Maryland. For a free consultation on your wrongful termination case, call our law offices today at 443-692-7685.
What is Wrongful Termination?
Wrongful termination or wrongful dismissal are the terms used to describe the situation in which an employer fires an employee in violation of company policy or a law protecting the employee. The state of Maryland protects employees against wrongful dismissals based on age discrimination or any other illegal reason. Employers are granted great deference when it comes to contracting and dismissing employees at will. However, employees may raise a red flag and file a wrongful termination in the following circumstances:
Breach of Contract
As stated before, Maryland is an at-will employment state. As such, employers have the right to terminate an employee for any reason or no reason at all. However, if there is a specific clause in the employee’s contract that states the reasons for dismissal, then as an employer you’d be bound to what the contract establishes. Terminated employees can file contract disputes if you violated an employee handbook policy or specific promise in the agreement.
The Constitution of the United States of America protects individuals from discrimination based on their race, sex, nationality, or religion. Therefore, employers are barred from dismissing an employee based on discrimination. Additionally, Maryland also protects employees from being fired based on their sexual orientation, marital status or gender identity.
Public policy also protects employees in several instances. For instance, an employer cannot fire an employee because he or she filed a claim against their employer. Additionally, an employer cannot retaliate or dismiss an employee because they refused to work under unsafe workplace conditions or refused to engage in illegal acts.
As you can see, employees can raise arguments based on these and other legal grounds to claim their employer wrongfully dismissed them. However, as we discuss below, employers may also have the opportunity to establish possible defenses against wrongful termination claims.
How Do I Prepare for Wrongful Termination Defenses?
There may be instances in which an employee might bring a justified wrongful termination case. However, in many other circumstances, unhappy, disgruntled, and angry employees may file frivolous claims to seek retribution. Some of the justifications an employer may use for an employee’s dismissal include, but are not limited to the following:
Most duties require employees to perform to the best of their abilities, or at least put forth a strong effort. As such, employers expect workers to do their job without it interfering with their goals. An employee who doesn’t perform to a company’s standards, shows up late, fails to meet deadlines, or is underproductive is at risk of losing their job. An employer may raise an argument based on an employee’s performance to justify a dismissal, though they are not obligated to do so.
Lack of Work Ethic
Work ethic is related to the hard work and due diligence an employee’s job requires. Lack of ethic frequently leads to behavior and actions that may be in contravention of employment rules and requirements. An employer can also resort to arguments based on a poor work ethic that ultimately lead to an employee’s dismissal.
Insubordination is the act of defying authority and refusal of following established instructions. As an employee, you are subject to perform tasks assigned by your employer. Noncompliance with job requirements and performance may lead to a legal dismissal.
The best way an employer can prepare for a wrongful termination case is to make sure they have as much evidence as possible. While employers have great deference concerning firing an at-will employee, wrongful termination claims may arise. Having a paper trail of evidence of poor performance and warnings that this behavior is unacceptable will help you overcome any claims that the employee was fired for questionable reasons. Always make sure you consult with an employment litigation defense attorney to seek the best course of action when facing a wrongful termination claim.
Employer Defense Attorney in Baltimore, Maryland
The Law Practice of Ken C. Gauvey dedicates its practice to making sure your daily operations keep running smoothly. If a former employee threatened to file a wrongful termination claim against you, talk to our Maryland employment lawyer today. For a complimentary consultation on your case call our offices today at 443-692-7685.