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Arizona recognizes the doctrine of employment-at-will, meaning that, in absence of a contract specifying a certain time period, either the employer or the employee may terminate the employment relationship without having to give a reason.
Having a secure job is generally essential to a person’s ability to live in society and provide for self and family. It is reasonable to expect that as long as you do your job reliably and well, you should be able to count on having it. You make major life decisions—where you live, what you can buy, where your children will attend school—based on the expectation of continuing to work at your job—as long as you come to work every day and do your job as expected. It’s frightening to think that you could lose everything on an employer’s whim, which is always a possibility in an employment-at-will situation. Fortunately, in Arizona, exemptions to the employment-at-will doctrine do exist. If you feel that you’ve been wrongfully terminated, your best option is to consult a Tucson wrongful termination employee from Yen Pilch Robaina & Kresin PLC.
Exceptions to Employment-at-Will in Arizona
Since Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act was passed into law, terminating a person’s employment because of the person’s race, religion, sex, age, or national origin has been prohibited, creating an exception to the employment-at-will doctrine and giving rise to a cause of action for wrongful termination.
In addition to the protections provided by Title VII, in Arizona, three classes of exemptions are recognized:
- The first prevents terminations for reasons that violate a public policy. Under the public-policy exception to employment-at-will, a wrongful discharge occurs when the termination is against an established public policy of the State. An example would be if you were fired for refusing to break some law when instructed by the employer to do so.
- Another exception prohibits terminating an employee when a contract for employment has been implied, for example, if your employer has made representations, either orally or in writing, in a company handbook or other written policy statement, that you could expect job security unless certain preliminary actions have been taken. Some employers have the employee sign a waiver stating clearly that the policies and guidelines stated in the handbook or document are not to be deemed as creating contract rights.
Another example of an implied contract is when the person who hired you stated that the employment would continue as long as your job performance remained acceptable. In that case, if you have had favorable reviews and have never been told your job performance is unacceptable, you might have a case for wrongful termination.
- Arizona recognizes what is termed an “implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing” in every employment relationship and that firing an employee with malice or in bad faith entitles the employee to sue for damages. An example in limited cases would be if a corporation fires a long-term employee to prevent the employee from receiving retirement benefits when the employee has contributed a percentage of earnings to a retirement fund only accessible if he or she continues working until the established retirement age.
Feeling secure in your job and therefore your ability to provide for yourself and your family is essential to maintaining your lifestyle. If you’ve been terminated from your job, in certain situations you may have recourse and can be helped by our Tucson wrongful termination employees. While the Doctrine of Employment-at-Will is generally accepted as valid in Arizona, there are exceptions.
Common Reasons for Wrongful Termination
If you were fired from your job for any of these reasons, or if you were forced out by a hostile working environment or intolerable working conditions, call the Tucson law offices of Robaina and Kresin, PLLC. Schedule a consultation with Tucson employment law attorney if:
- You were fired because of your membership in one of the categories protected from discrimination specified by Title VII.
- You were fired for refusing to do something illegal.
- You were fired for performing an important public obligation, i.e. voting or jury duty.
- You were fired for exercising important legal rights or privileges, for example taking family leaves you’re entitled to under the federal Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA).
- You were fired for exposing your employer’s wrongdoing (whistle-blowing).
Protect Your Right to Work
Proving a wrongful termination is a difficult task. Employers will often attempt to misrepresent the actual reason for the termination, making it essential to have an Arizona employment law attorney with years of experience and knowledge of state and federal statutes, as well as case law pertaining to employment and civil rights.
At Yen Pilch Robaina & Kresin PLC, in Tucson, employment law is our primary practice area. We believe that fairness and security on the job is the right of every hard-working citizen and should never be denied because of an employer’s bias, whim, or malicious intent.
If you’ve been fired without cause, call one of our Tucson wrongful termination lawyers. You’ll get straight answers to your questions and knowledgeable guidance and advice concerning your legal options. Contact us or call at (602) 682-6450.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q. I am a practicing Muslim female. I’ve been working at my retail sales job since I was 16. I turned 18 three months ago and began covering my head with a scarf as my religion requires. I was terminated this week because my style of dress didn’t fit with the company’s style. Is this a wrongful termination? My sales have not gone down.
A. You should consult an employment attorney to assist you with the steps you should follow to file a wrongful termination lawsuit based on religious discrimination in violation of Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act.
Q. I work as a paralegal for a personal injury lawyer. One of my duties is to attend physical exams conducted by the defendant’s insurance company’s doctor and take notes. My employer wants me to lie under oath about the tests the doctor conducted to undermine the credibility of his testimony. If I refuse, can he fire me as he implied he would?
A. If you can prove you lost your job because you refused to lie under oath, you would have a cause of action in Arizona based on the public policy exception. You will need a good employment lawyer.
Q. My mom has worked full time in a retail chain for 19 years. During that time she has made contributions to a retirement fund. The employer matches her contribution. The funds are only payable when she becomes eligible for retirement after 20 years of service. She was just terminated without cause, but it is obviously to keep her from collecting her retirement benefits. Is this a wrongful termination?
A. This may be considered a termination in that falls under the bad faith exemption to the “employment-at-will doctrine.” Your best bet is to talk to an Arizona employment attorney who can advise your mother and help her prove that the only reason for her termination was to deny her retirement benefits. She may be able to recover her damages.
Q. I took my FMLA maternity leave to have my baby, and my company hired a temp to replace me. When I called to say I was ready to return to work, I was told that my position had been eliminated. A coworker told me they hired the temp as my permanent replacement. Do I have recourse?
A. Your employment is required to keep your job open while you are on maternity leave, provided you had worked the required amount of time prior to taking leave. Bring an employment attorney on board to help you collect damages.