Most employment in the United States is “at-will.” At-will employment means that you or your employer are free to end the employment relationship at any time for any reason. This means that you can quit because you want to take a vacation and don’t feel like putting in the request. It also means that your employer can fire you because you keep wearing red and your boss hates red. However, an employer cannot fire you as a form of harassment, discrimination or as retaliation for cooperating with an investigation. There are an infinite number of reasons why you can be fired or laid-off, but you can never be fired as punishment for following the law.
If you are fired after cooperating with a government investigation, then you may have an actionable employment claim. Supervisors and their employees who are compelled to cooperate with an investigation by the police, worker safety boards or any other official body, are protected from being terminated due to that cooperation. Federal law prohibits retaliation against employees for fulfilling their statutory duties, such as cooperating with an investigation. Cases like these are delicate and require finesse to amass the facts and properly establish your claim.
If this happens to you, don’t argue with your boss, go to media or anything else that could be considered rash. It is best that you remain in good relations with your former employer. You may even require the cooperation of some of your supervisors to substantiate your claim. Many violations carry statutory penalties to which you may be entitled. Your employer may even be required to pay punitive damages to you. An attorney can assist you in understanding your rights and framing your arguments.
Many employment suits can involve claims beyond retaliatory termination. Employment law is an interconnected practice that demands your attorney have both a wide knowledge base and a broad understanding of each subject. Don’t miss out on some of your rights because your attorney only knows how to litigate harassment claims. If you believe you may be the victim of wrongful termination, then you need an experienced attorney. You have rights. Don’t be afraid to fight for them.