Can I sue my former employer for unjust termination?

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Can I sue my former employer for unjust termination?

About 2 months ago I was terminated from my job because 2 coworkers told the supervisor that I was sleeping on the clock. I presented evidence to the Director to prove to him that I was not sleeping and I was still fired. I applied for unemployment and was granted it because they said my employer had no evidence to support my termination. So it was determined I was fired unjustly. However, I was still within the probation period of my employment where I could be discharged at any time. Because it was determined by the Department of Labor and Industry that there was no evidence to support my termination, can I sue my former employer?

Asked on December 28, 2011 under Employment Labor Law, Pennsylvania

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

You are not quite right--being granted unemployment means the Dept. of Labor concluded you were not fired "for cause," but has nothing to do with whether you were fired unjustly or not. "For cause" termination has a vey specific meaning--it is being fired for absenteeism, insubordination, violating company policy, stealing from the company or threatening coworkers or customers, etc.

However, if you do not have an employment contract, you may generally be fired at any time, for any reason--and not just during the probationary period, but at any time. Therefore, even if it was not fair and not for cause, your company is allowed to fire you if it wants to; therefore, the termination is legal and you may not receive or recover compensation for it.


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