The short answer is hardly ever. Here’s why. The law presumes that employees are employed “at-will”. This means that your employer can terminate your employment at any time for any reason or for no reason without incurring legal liability. The only limitation to this general rule would be if you can establish that there as a discriminatory reason for your termination, such as because of your age, race, gender or some other protected category under the human rights law. If discrimination is at the root of the termination and you have some level of proof, your termination would actually be wrongful and illegal. Similarly, if you are fired in retaliation for reporting the activities of your company that are in violation of local, state or federal law, such as not being paid overtime and/or minimum wage, your termination would also be wrongful/illegal and would give rise to a legal claim.
What is not legally protected is when a high performing, successful employee is blindsided by a termination for no reason The termination would obviously be upsetting and senseless, even a terrible business decision, but that would not give rise to a legal claim. Obviously, it would be wrongful to you, but not in the legal sense.
If you believe you have been fired for questionable reasons that may constitute employment discrimination or a breach of contract, contact Schwartz Perry & Heller LLP online or at (646) 490-0221 to schedule your free initial consultation!