Most employment is “at-will,” meaning the employer can fire their employee at any time. But there are some exceptions that can make a firing illegal, as well as other exceptions to at-will rule, that could potentially help you keep your job or even sue for wrongful termination. So what can be considered as wrongful termination? This article will help you identify whether your firing was legal.
Arizona employment laws
Arizona law makes it so that an employer can fire an employee at any time without any notice, although there are a few exceptions to this law:
- If there is a written contract signed by both parties specifying a period of time for employment or restricts the termination of the employee
- If the employer terminates the employee for discriminatory purposes
In Arizona and throughout the United States, discrimination is illegal. An employee cannot be terminated for a discriminatory purpose at any time. If you believe you’ve been fired because of your race, color, national origin, gender, religion, age, disability, pregnancy, or genetic information you may be able to take legal action on your employer. You can file a complaint of discrimination with a state or federal agency.
Other factors that fall under wrongful termination
There are other reasons that you may be able to file a wrongful termination lawsuit for:
- Implied promises – another exception to the at-will rule is if your employer said or did something that implied an employment contract.
- Breaches of good faith and fair dealing – if your employer acted unfairly you may be able to make a wrongful termination claim.
- Violations of public policy – It is illegal to fire someone for reasons that society recognizes are illegal grounds for termination.
- Retaliation – Employers cannot fire employees for engaging in certain legal activities.
- Fraud – Fraud occurs when employer’s actions become so extreme that terminating their employee is devious and wrong.
- Defamation – A defamation lawsuit protects a person’s reputation and good standing in the community.
- Whistle-blowing violations – This protects employees from being terminated for reporting unlawful activities.
A former Red Robin employee is suing the burger chain because she claims she was fired for complaining about racist hiring practices at the Coeur d’Alene location in Idaho.
Stacie Ward had been with Red Robin for over 11 years, working at many different locations. When she transferred to the Coeur d’Alene location, which had just opened, another employee transferred with her. Stacie says this man, who was African-American, was fired not long after starting, for the minor violation of wearing headphones while working.
Not long after this, Stacie, who was in charge of screening and interviewing most potential employees, met with a young black man applying for a job in the restaurant. She felt the man was qualified, and recommended a formal interview for him. Stacie said that when the assistant manager saw the applicant, he took Stacie aside and informed her that they would not hire a person of color. Stacie says the manager used an offensive racial slur and admitted that the man who had been fired for wearing headphones had been fired because of his race.
When Stacie objected to the manager’s comments and hiring decisions, she began facing retaliation from the managers of the restaurant. She suddenly found herself receiving false complaints from the managers and “customers” about her job performance, and was fired shortly after, all because she spoke up against something that was unjust. Stacie contacted the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and filed a complaint. Without her income, Stacie says she lost her home, health insurance, and retirement savings, and is suing to cover these damages.
If you have faced retaliation for being a whistleblower or if you have faced discrimination of any kind in the workplace, contact an Arizona labor and employment law attorney today.
Shortly after a deadly incident along local Interstate 17 in North Phoenix, a whistleblower has come forward and alleged an accident was ‘bound to happen’.
The rollover accident that occurred earlier in August involved a tanker truck, shutting down parts of the highway for several hours as crews raced to remove hot asphalt oil from the crash. One whistleblower claims the accident, which claimed the life of the tanker truck driver, might have been avoided altogether.
Preliminary investigators reported driver fatigue was likely the cause of the crash. Witnesses in the area noted the truck was swerving along the road moments before the fatal incident. Investigators found various road signs the driver had knocked down before ultimately crashing into a pole.
A coworker from Cactus Transport who personally knew the tanker truck driver told reporters, “The first thing that went through my mind was it was bound to happen. It was coming any day.” The man went on to claim that from the moment he began working for the company, he was pressured to work beyond legal restraints and through break periods.
The whistleblower went on to add, “It’s very dangerous to have people that tired working around that kind of stuff. The hours that they give these guys, they don’t give them rest time. They want them to stop one job, get ready to go to the next and work all that day without any kind of breaks or rests.”
Incidents like what occurred on Interstate 17 are important reminders why whistleblowers need to exist. Many of these individuals fear stepping forward will result in their own detriment, reporting that threatens their very livelihood.
Preventable accidents force the question, Are we doing enough to encourage whistleblowers? Fostering a more positive stance on whistleblowers could prevent tragic fatalities and improve work conditions.
Original story reported by AZ Family.