What to do about a wrongful termination?

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What to do about a wrongful termination?

I am 55 years old and retired from US Marines. I was called in to HR and terminated with no warning oabout 2 weeks ago for “communication” with my supervisor. There was no final incident that preceded the termination. The company has an employee handbook that publishes a progressive disciplinary process of Discussion, Warning and Final Warning; then termination. I was not afforded an opportunity for anything; I was just dismissed. I believe that I was wrongly terminated.

Asked on June 9, 2012 under Employment Labor Law, Florida

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

Normally, an employee can be terminated at any time, for any reason, without warning or progressive discipline. That can be modified by contract, and a contract can be implied (or found in/from) an employee handbook if the employee handbook is sufficiently concrete and lacks any caveats or limitations on its enforceability: i.e., if the handbook does NOT contain any statements such as--

"Nothing in this handbook constitutes a contract of employment"

"All employment is employment at will"

"Policies may be changed at will without notice"

--the handbook may constitute an employment contract. On the other hand, if it has those sorts of disclaimers, it would not, and employment would remain employment at will, allowing termination under the circumstances you describe. Therefore, a key issue is what exactly your handbook says; you should bring a copy to an employment law attorney to review with you.

Also, it is illegal to discriminate in employment against those age 40 or older; if there is reason to believe your termination was age-related (which includes terminating older, more experienced, and higher-compensated employess in favor of less-expensive younger staff), you may have a discrimination claim, which is something else to discuss with your attorney.


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