Most states permit “at will” employment. A job is “at will” when the employer or the employee can terminate the employment relationship at any time for any reason. Missouri is among those states that have “at will” employment laws. However, bear in mind that just because you can quit or your employer can fire you for any reason, does not mean that every reason is legitimate. A wrongful termination claim arises when you are fired for an inappropriate reason. Some examples of unlawful reasons to fire someone include:
- Breaking an employment contract (it can be either oral or written).
- Termination as a retaliatory measure against an individual who filed a claim or complaint against the employer.
- Termination in violation of anti-discrimination laws, either federal or state.
- Using termination as a means of sexual harassment.
- Termination in violation of labor laws, including collective bargaining rights and disability protections.
It is important that you distinguish the difference between an unlawful and lawful termination. For example, assuming you have no employment contract (this includes employee handbooks that detail the relationship between you and your employer) you can be fired because you wore pink on Thursdays, because you have red-hair or because you have a squeaky voice. It might seem counterintuitive but discrimination laws are very specific regarding what kind of behavior they prohibit. A wrongful termination claim is very specific for what behavior you can and cannot seek a valid claim.
You may wish to speak to an experienced Missouri employment attorney to ensure that you have a valid claim before discussing the matter with your employer or someone else. Don’t let your boss, supervisor or anyone else intimidate you from bringing a wrongful termination suit. You work hard and you are entitled to equal rights to employment.