Is being terminated just for being the on-site manager’s wife legal?

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Is being terminated just for being the on-site manager’s wife legal?

My husband hired me to work in his department, with his boss’s knowledge. Now after being there for 1 month (the contract was for 4 months) the HR department had my contract terminated effective immediately. Technically he is paid by one company and I was paid through a contract employment agency. I reported any problems/issues to him but had no other contact with him throughout the day.

Asked on November 10, 2011 under Employment Labor Law, Georgia

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

The most important issue in determining whether you have any cause of action for improper or illegal termination: did you have an employment contract? If you did, any terms or conditions of that contract guarantying or protecting employment, limiting the reasons you could be fired, or setting out a process for termination may be enforced.

If you did not have a contract, you would be an employee at will. An employee at will may be terminated at any time, for any reason, so you could be fired for being the on-site manager's wife--or just because the employer wanted to fire you. The exceptions would be if you could show that your termination was prompted by discrimination against your race, religion, age over 40, sex, or disability, or was retaliation for bringing certain claims (such as for overtime or that you were discriminated against) or using certain benefits (like worker's compensation or FMLA leave).


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