The term “wrongful termination” is often used to describe any involuntary termination in which an employee believes he or she was treated unfairly. Although being fired in an unfair manner is not necessarily unlawful, there are of course numerous types of involuntary terminations that, in addition to being unfair, are in fact also unlawful. These may include a termination that is a breach of a provision within an employment agreement. In some cases a wrongful termination may be a result of an employer not following it’s own employment policies.
The most frequent form of wrongful terminations is discrimination. The Massachusetts law dealing with discrimination is MGL c. 151B. These terminations are usually a result of some form of disparate treatment, in which an employee feels that he or she is being treated in a different manner than other similarly situated employees, and if it wasn’t for their protected class status (i.e. age, disability, race, gender and/or gender preference, ethnic background, religious preference, recovering addiction, etc.) they would not have been fired. The Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination (MCAD) was organized by the legislature to combat discrimination in the work place. However, filing a discrimination or wrongful termination claim with the MCAD does not preclude your rights to later filing in Superior Court as well.
Other forms of wrongful terminations include a “breach of an implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing,” terminations for “whistle blowing,” retaliation for having engaged in protected activity under the law (ie. making a complaint of sexual harassment or retaliatory discharge under the Worker’s Compensation Act), violations of the Massachusetts Civil Rights Act, and terminations for jury service.
The list above includes only some of the types of “wrongful terminations” in Massachusetts, and is not all-inclusive. Our attorneys specialize in employment law, and we have significant experience representing both employers and employees in all areas of employment law. Our experience, working on both sides, has provided us with the distinct perspective of being able to evaluate a case, and see the potential arguments, from both the employee’s and the employer’s positions. This helps us to plan ahead for such arguments, and be prepared to make our counter arguments when needed.
If you are an employee or employer who has questions about a termination, and would like to have a consultation, we invite you to sit down and speak with us regarding your specific situation.