Many employees can be placed in a tough predicament when battling discrimination or retaliation from employers, especially to find their employment terminated out of nowhere.
New York is generally an “at-will employment” state. In other words, unless there is an employment agreement in place that says otherwise, employment can be terminated for any reason, at any given time, without cause or notice. While such broad discretion to fire or quit “at will” allows the employment to be terminated for no reason, employment still cannot be terminated for the wrong reason.
Employers and employees are subject to the contractual obligations in the employment agreements and be in compliance with the applicable laws.
For example, employment cannot be terminated by an employer based on the employee’s:
Membership in a protected class, including:
- Physical or mental disability
- Veteran status
- Participation in legal recreational or political activities outside of work
- Membership in a union
- Complaints to the employer or the commissioner of labor regarding violations of New York Labor Law; or
- Engagement in protected activities such as whistleblowing.
Request for or exercise of protected leave, including:
- Maternity leave
- Worker’s compensation
- Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA)
- Pursuit to enforce wage rights; or
- Refusal to submit to sexual advances.
An employer who engages in wrongful termination may be subject to statutory penalties, and/or payment of damages based on lost wages, lost benefits, emotional distress, and attorneys’ fees.
For additional information related to wrongful termination of employment in New York, please contact an experienced employment law attorney who may be able to help.
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