Can I sue my employer if I was terminated during an investigation?

terminated employee sues

My employer started an investigation regarding my behavior. I was terminated before I could even tell my side of the story. My co-workers provided statements, but I was not allowed an opportunity. And, I did not do anything wrong! Is this legal? Can I sue?

Many employees find themselves in a state of shock after being terminated, some wondering what they have done wrong. Unfortunately, you can sometimes be legally terminated even if you have done nothing wrong. The answer to your question depends on whether you are an at-will employee or a contracted employee.

At-Will Employee

Most employees are at-will employees. If you are an at-will employee, your employer can terminate you for any reason or no reason at all, with few exceptions. The only reasons you cannot be terminated are those that are protected by state or federal law. Examples of reasons protected by law include discrimination, retaliation, or taking time off of work under leave acts. Whether you were terminated because of your behavior is irrelevant. Unfortunately, your employer can terminate you even if you did not do anything wrong. Furthermore, your employer can terminate you in the middle of an investigation and they do not need to provide a reason.

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Employment Contract

If you have an employment contract or are part of a union, you may have grounds to sue your employer. You will need to refer to the terms of your employment contract to determine if your employer can terminate you with or without cause. If you believe that you may have a case against your employer, speak with an employment attorney. Some attorneys provide a free consultation and will guide you in the right direction.

This article is intended for informational purposes only. It provides general information and is not intended and should not be construed as professional advice. The author is not your attorney, accountant, financial planner or any other professional and no professional-client relationship is created. We do not represent that the information provided is accurate or up-to-date as laws and regulations are always changing. If you have an issue that requires professional help, you should contact the appropriate professional to help you on your specific set of facts. Please read the Terms and Conditions for additional information.

Alicia H. Lillegard, Esq.

Alicia Lillegard has over 20 years of experience in employment law, human resources and insurance, working with with large blue chip companies, startups, and not-for-profit organizations. Ms. Lillegard is currently Managing Director of New England Human Capital, a human resources consultancy which advises small and midsize businesses on Human Resources compliance, including employment procedures, employee relations and employee benefits. She holds degrees from Loyola University Chicago and John Marshall Law School.

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1 Comment

  1. Thank you. Good article

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