When is it not okay to fire an employee?

In some circumstances, employers are prohibited from firing their employees. This protection applies to situations when firing an employee would be unlawful retaliation against them. It is important for workers to be familiar with protections against employer retaliation.

What is considered retaliation?

In general, employer retaliation occurs when an employer terminates an employee or takes adverse action against them because the employee made a complaint against them such as about harassment or discrimination occurring in the workplace. Employer retaliation can look like firing an employee but can also include demotions, poor reviews, pay cuts or reducing the employee’s hours. In addition

It is important to note that protections against employer retaliation apply both to the employee who made the complaint but also to employees who may participate in an investigation of the complaint. Punishments against employees who make a complaint or those involved in the investigation may be considered prohibited employer retaliation.

Examples of when it might not be ok to terminate an employee

It may be considered employer retaliation if an employee is terminated because:

  • Reporting a safety violation;
  • Filing a workplace discrimination claim;
  • Filing a workers’ compensation claim;
  • Making a complaint about sexual harassment;
  • Requesting unpaid time off;
  • Requesting a reasonable accommodation for a disability;
  • Reporting fraud or illegal activity by the employer; and
  • Other legally protected activities.

Employment laws provide a host of protections for workers. For that reason, employees who believe they have been retaliated against and wrongfully terminated should be familiar with the protections available and the legal remedies that may be available to them.

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