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7 Tricks an Employer May Resort to in an Attempt to Unlawfully Fire an Employee

Every year, thousands of people in the US are subjected to wrongful termination. In such cases, former workers may be able to win lawsuits that would provide a settlement or reinstate them. However, it’s important to consider that most employment is “at-will”, which means an employer can terminate a worker at almost any time, for nearly any reason. Though such scenarios make it seem as if employees have few rights, numerous laws protect them from illegal termination. Here, you’ll learn a few tricks employers use to fire workers illegally.

Violating Implied or Written Promises

When an employee accepts a job offer for a certain salary, they enter a contract whether it’s verbal or written. Most contracts do not specify a timeframe within which work is guaranteed. However, if a contract does have such a stipulation and you’re terminated before the period ends, you may have a valid wrongful termination case.


The anti-discrimination statutes protecting workers during hiring also protect them from unlawful termination. An employer cannot fire a worker because of their gender, race, age, sexual orientation, nationality, or disability. In most places, workers cannot be terminated for their military status, pregnancy, or marital status. It can be hard to prove discrimination, which is why it’s crucial for employers to document employee issues and terminations.

Unfair Dealings and Bad Faith

You cannot be terminated because of unfair practices. If you were fired so an employer could avoid paying sales commissions that would be an example of bad faith and unfair dealings. Similarly, if you were misled about pay raises or promotions, you may have a case.

Public Policy Violations

According to state law, you can’t be terminated for taking time off to vote to serve in the military, or to perform jury duty. Additionally, you can’t be fired if you take time off for a federally-sanctioned reason. Employers cannot fire workers who take medical or family leave, but case outcomes depend on state law and individual circumstances.


If you perform a legally protected action while you’re on the job, your employer cannot fire you out of retaliation. If you file a formal complaint about a workplace safety or health concern, OSHA (the Occupational Safety and Health Act) protects you from termination. You can’t be fired for filing an EEOC or harassment complaint. However, you may have to prove that the complaint was the reason for your firing.

Employer Fraud

If you were forced to resign, you may have a reason to file a wrongful termination claim. The most difficult part of documenting fraud is proving that the employer’s actions were intentional. If you can prove that superiors knew that you were given false information that you used and were subsequently terminated for using, you can make fraud allegations.


If an employer spreads misinformation about you and your reputation is damaged, you may have a case for wrongful termination. If they defame you during the termination process, you can file a suit for defamation as well, because the misinformation may make it hard for you to find future employment.

Final Thoughts

Although most employers act ethically during the employment and termination process, that’s not always true. If you believe that you’ve been unlawfully terminated, you may have a legal case and you should seek advice from an attorney.


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