It is a phrase that has so many meanings. I talk to companies all the time who fear that they might illegally fire someone and risk being sued. I also talk to individuals every day who complain that they have been wrongfully terminated and tell me that they want to sue. The reality is that wrongful termination does not mean illegal termination.
This is where I have my Life is Not Fair speech. Employers in Alabama, and most states, can terminate an employee at any time, for any reason, so long as there is not a specific legal protection preventing it. This is called employment at-will. The types of laws that protect employees prohibit termination based on your race, age, gender, disability, and a number of other protected classifications. You might also have protection from termination if you have an employment contract or if you are in a union that has a contract, called a collecting bargaining agreement, that protects you. Another source of protection is for government employees who have certain due process rights.
While it sounds like employment at-will means that as an employer you can terminate your employees whenever you want or that as an employee you can be terminated at any time, it is not quite that simple. It is always wise to talk to an experienced employment attorney about any employment issues that you might have.
Any information contained herein should not be construed as legal advice. You should always consult with an attorney about your specific legal needs.
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