Can an “at will” employer be sued for wrongfull termination if their reason for termination is a lie?

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Can an “at will” employer be sued for wrongfull termination if their reason for termination is a lie?

I work for one of the largest, most well known international companies in the world. But their internal practices have made employment in their work environments very harsh. I’ve learned that dozens of people were wrongfully fired for not meeting required expectations. What’s been happening is, more long term employees have been manipulating the system to steal the numbers of newer employees to keep their jobs and cover their laziness, resulting in newer hires being fired for under performance using a RF scanner gun system. Can they be sued for this?

Asked on May 5, 2012 under Employment Labor Law, Alabama

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

No, the employer may not be sued over this. An at will employer may fire an employee for literally any reason (apart from illegal discrimation, such as racial or sexual; or apart from retaliation for bringing certain protected claims, such as for overtime or that an employee was discriminated against). This means they can terminate employees for a good reason, a bad reason, a false reason, or no reason.

If another employee is making false factual statements about a co-worker which damage his or her reputation--such as lying about his or her performance--that could be defamation. It could also be tortious interference with a contract (the employer-employee relationship) to falsify numbers to damage another employee. It is possible that there could be a lawsuit against the wrongdoing employees, depending on the exact circumstances, and it may be worthwile to discuss the possibility in depth with an employment law or personal injury attorney.


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