What Does Wrongful Termination Look Like In New York?
New York, like all other U.S. states, is an “at-will” state when it comes to employment, meaning that both the employee and the employer can sever the employment relationship at any time. However, if an employer terminates an employee, it still may not be for any unlawful reason. If you have been terminated by your employer, and you suspect it was done for a discriminatory reason, you may have a case for wrongful termination. Consulting an attorney can help to clarify your options.
Exceptions To The At-Will Doctrine
While the U.S. is generally an at-will employment country, there are three major exceptions to the at-will doctrine – in other words, if your case falls under any of the exceptions, you may be able to file suit for damages against your employer. The first is if a contract exists; someone with a valid employment contract cannot be abruptly fired without cause because they are not an at-will employee, by definition. This also applies to implicit employment contracts – one does not have to have a written document in order for a contract to exist.
The second exception to the at-will doctrine is if you were terminated in retaliation for exercising your rights. Employees have rights under both New York and federal employment law to engage in what is known as equal employment opportunity (EEO) protected activity. Examples include participating in a disciplinary action like a whistleblower claim, opposing discriminatory practices, or requesting a reasonable accommodation based on disability or religion. It can sometimes be difficult to link your termination to your previous actions, but it can be done.
The last exception to the at-will doctrine is when an employer acts against an employee on the basis of a protected characteristic – in other words, if an employee is fired, demoted, or experiences any other negative employment action exclusively due to one or more characteristic about them. Protected classes under the Title VII of the Civil Rights Act include race/color, gender/sex, national origin, ethnicity, and religion, while other laws add disability, age, and genetic information to the list, among others. New York law adds even more.
An employer may not act against an employee based solely on any of these characteristics. You have the right to file a charge if this happens, either with the New York State Division of Human Rights, the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), or another equivalent body such as the New York City commission. Be advised that under New York law, punitive damages are possible against a private employer (usually up to double damages) if it can be established that the employer acted maliciously.
Contact A New York City Employment Discrimination Attorney
If you suspect that you have been terminated unlawfully, you deserve the chance to be compensated for what you have lost. If you have questions about the process of filing a wrongful termination claim, calling a New York City employment discrimination attorney at Mansell Law, LLC can help to get them answered. Contact our offices today via our website, or on the phone at 646-921-8900, for a free consultation.