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How does a contract impact wrongful termination claims?

On Behalf of | Jul 30, 2022 | employee rights |

Wrongful termination is when an employer fires you in a way that violates the law. Employment laws are generally rather flexible, allowing employers to let employees go for almost any reason. Cases involving discrimination are illegal under state and federal laws, but they can be tough to prove. Typically, most wrongful termination cases involve situations with contracts because they are easier to prove wrongdoing.

The Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development explains most employment contracts will have specific clauses or sections addressing the terms of employment, which include reasons why the company can terminate you.

Clear terms

In some cases, it is clear when an employer may terminate your contract. For example, if the agreement includes an end date, then your employer will usually end your employment at that time. There may also be outlined reasons why the employer can end the contract earlier, such as not meeting work standards, attendance issues or blatant violations of company policies, such as using drugs in a drug-free office.

Questionable tactics

Sometimes, an employer will try to end a contract by saying you violated a term when you did not. You will need to prove this is the case, but your employer must also prove his or her claims. The employer may also try to alter the contract and say you broke an implied term, which would open the door for a wrongful termination claim.

In general, a contract will offer you more protection against wrongful termination than general employment because the contract spells things out. Under the general employment law, an employer can usually let you go for almost any reason, so having a contract provides a layer of protection that would require the employer to honor it.