How do you know if someone was wrongfully terminated?

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How do you know if someone was wrongfully terminated?

My husband has worked as a maintenance worker for over 5 years. A couple of months ago the company was going to junk a minivan as they did not want to put any money into it. My husband asked to purchase the vehicle for junk price ($250) and his supervisor approved this stating that he needed to pay the finance guy. He tried to stop in the office once and called a couple times then forgot. No one ever asked for money. Friday he was fired for driving a company vehicle off company time. They called it insubordination. Saturday his supervisor called in and said that he could still buy the van. Until then no one asked for money.

Asked on January 31, 2011 under Employment Labor Law, Iowa

Answers:

M.D., Member, California and New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

This is a most unfortunate misunderstanding but I'm afraid that your husband doesn't have any claim for wrongful termination in this case.  The reason is that most employment relationships are what is known as "at will"; meaning that you can choose to work for an employer or not and an employer can hire or fire you for any reason or no reason.  While seemingly unfair it's the law. The exceptions to this would be if this action was not allowed by virtue of an employment contract, union agreement, or company policy.  Also, discrimination must not have played a role in termination.  Absent any of these circumstances your husband's firing was lawful.

Why not try and write down the events just as they happened and give a copy to his employer (possibly an employment law attorney can help him with this).  Such a statement may help to straighten out any misunderstanding.  If for nothing else, you want it on the record.  Unemployment benefits might be at risk.


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