Do I have any rights or a wrongful termination case if I was fired without notice for no reason?

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Do I have any rights or a wrongful termination case if I was fired without notice for no reason?

Hello, I am a teacher in an NYC private school and I was fired via email last night while I was on approved vacation time, without any notice and without a reason. According to my contract, I am an “at-will” employee. However, I have been having issues with my employer and the administrators have shown hostility towards me during the length of my employment. I have tried time and time again to work with the administration but they have treated me like a second class citizen and refused to observe me formally. I have proof of all my attempts to correct issues and their lack of action. Lastly, the new teacher they hired is not even a certified teacher, as I am, and is the same nationality (Turkish) as all the administrators are. Do I have any rights or a wrongful termination case?

Asked on January 19, 2012 under Employment Labor Law, New York

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

You unfortunately do not appear to have an improper termination case, except possibly under number 2), below:

1) An employee at will may be fired at any time, for any reason, without notice.

2) An employer may be hostile to an employee--unless the hostility is based on illegal discrimination against the employee due to his or her race, religion, age over 40, sex, or disability (that's under federal law; NY law adds a few more categories, such as sexual orientation o, most critically for you, national origin). Therefore, if it's not illegal discrimination, the employer may act hostile to you and treat you as a second class citizen.

3) Employers do not have to work with you or try to resolve issues.

4) The qualifications (or not) of a successor in yourr position do not matter--unless they help provide evidence of illegal discrimination.

As stated under 2), national origin discrimination is illegal in NY. Y]ou say that the administrators and the replacement teacher are all Turkish. If you believe that the harassment of you and your termination was because you are not Turkish, you may have a legal claim. Note that even if everyone else is Turkish and you are not, that if there are other valid reasons for the actions taken against you, that would be legal--discrimination must be the cause of the negative action against you to give rise to a claim.

If you think this may be the case, you should consult with an employment law attorney about your situation in depth, to see whether you have a claim and what it might be worth.


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