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What constitutes wrongful termination in an at-will state?

On Behalf of | Jul 6, 2024 | Employment Law

Receiving a job offer is an exciting moment for most people. Professionals attempting to develop their careers are often enthusiastic about opportunities that provide training, unique experience or better compensation.

Typically, people have the easiest time securing new jobs when they currently have a position with a company. The sudden loss of a job is inconvenient in part because it may lead to major setbacks in a long-term career development plan. Beyond that, a worker has to face the immediate inconveniences of losing their income and looking for a job with little warning.

Sometimes, workers look for severance compensation or other support from an employer after a termination. Occasionally, they may even have grounds to take legal action against the business that recently terminated them. Workers can sometimes take legal action by raising claims of wrongful termination. When is a firing wrongful in an at-will state?

Idaho has at-will employment laws

Like the majority of other states in the country, Idaho has at-will employment statutes. Neither the employer nor the worker has any statutory requirement to continue an employment arrangement. They can both terminate the agreement at any time and for essentially any lawful reason.

That being said, there are still reasons for termination that are clearly illegal. Most wrongful termination claims stem from allegations of either discrimination or retaliation. In cases where workers believe that their protected characteristics such as their sex, religion or disability status contributed to their termination, they may have grounds to take legal action.

The same is true if a firing was retaliatory.  Both federal and Idaho state laws protect certain activities such as reporting safety concerns, requesting disability accommodations and organizing with coworkers. If a business terminates a worker after they engaged in a protected activity, the employee might have grounds to take legal action in response.

The burden of proof falls to the employee in a wrongful termination lawsuit. They have to convince the courts that their employer considered inappropriate characteristics or protected behavior when choosing to terminate them. Filing a wrongful termination lawsuit might lead to financial compensation or even reinstatement to a prior position. Workers who know when a termination was wrongful are in a position to fight back against company misconduct.