HR Glossary  >   Wrongful Termination

Wrongful Termination

What is Wrongful Termination?

Wrongful termination is the termination of an employee by the employer without considering any legal laws. This kind of dismissal breaches the state and legal laws as well as the employment agreement. In other words, it is also known as wrongful discharge or dismissal. In the case of at-will employment, the employer and employee do not require a valid reason to end the employment contract. Yet, if specific employment laws are violated, it can be said to be a wrongful termination.


Examples of Wrongful Termination of Employee

Here are a few examples of employee termination that are not legal.

1. Violation of Employment Contract

When during an employee dismissal, the stipulations or laws stated in an employment policy or contract are not followed is called a violation of the employment contract. For instance, an employee is dismissed from his role due to some reason after giving a verbal warning. However, as per the contract, after being warned verbally, the employee should be given a written warning before completely terminating him.

2. Constructive Dismissal

When an employee is pressurized to leave the job voluntarily but due to the behavior of the manager or the employer is called constructive dismissal. This is usually performed by making a poor and unapproachable working environment or changing the terms of the job contract.

3. Employee Discrimination

This type of dismissal happens by discriminating against an employee based on his disability, appearance, religion, gender, etc. Both verbal and non-verbal indications are included here. For example, the following are some of the cases of wrongful discrimination due to discrimination.

  • If an employee of the age of 45 years is fired without any relevant cause.
  • If an employee who is physically disabled is fired.

4. Retaliation

When an employee is discharged as a result of reporting illegal or discriminative behavior in the workplace or supporting any investigation is known as retaliation. For instance, an employee stands against discrimination and reports it, but in turn, he is dismissed can be said as an illegal termination.

5. Asking employees to commit illegal activities

Employees fired after requesting them to commit any discrimination or related illegal offense is regarded as wrongful dismissal. An example of this could be asking them to start rumours about a teammate or alter any sensitive business information.


Frequently Asked Questions

When can an employee claim wrongful termination?

Despite the fact that employees can be terminated for poor performance at work, it is not rightful to do it illegally. As per regulatory laws, employees have the right to claim against termination based on the following wrongful decisions.

  • Discrimination based on caste, gender, origin, colour, sexual orientation, or age.
  • Violation of job agreement
  • Retaliation for reporting discrimination, harassment, or other illegal activity.
  • Requesting employees to conduct any unlawful offense.
  • The terms of the job agreement are violated.

When is an employee dismissal not considered wrongful?

In cases of at-will employment, neither the employer nor the employee requires any legal reason to end the contract. Of course, the employee can be terminated for any misconduct, tardiness, or as silly as his behavior or attitude without giving any prior warning. But this should not involve any illegal reasons.

Can an employee claim severance pay for wrongful discrimination?

Severance pay is a reward offered to the employee for his constant efforts and services to the company. According to any statutory laws, there are no rules that mandate the employer to ensure severance pay to his employees. But it may be the company’s will whether to offer severance pay or not, and this is included in the employment contract.


What can an employee do if terminated wrongly?

If an employee is dismissed incorrectly or illegally, he can consider checking the following criteria.

Understand regulatory laws

Research all the laws formed by the state and central government to understand rules regarding such types of employee dismissal.

Recheck the employment contract

Consider reviewing all the terms mentioned in your job contract to check if there are any wage violations, policy changes, overtime rule changes, etc.

Consult labour department/unions

After going through all the rules and coming to a conclusion that the employee is a victim of wrongful dismissal, he can take advice from labour departments and unions.

Talk to the HR department

Discuss with your HR department to know about the full and final settlement, interview, etc., including asking for any benefits you can receive.

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