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What are considered illegal reasons for firing an employee?

It is not always easy to find employment and, when you have it, there is a good chance you will work hard to keep it. But what if your employer decides to dismiss you unjustly? Indiana is an employment-at-will state. For many employees, this means they can be dismissed legally for just about any reason and this can happen at any time. However, some reasons are exempt from this rule and are considered illegal.

Wrongful termination laws exist on both a state and federal level. Furthermore, as is explained on FindLaw, they apply to both at-will employees and those on a contract. Illegal reasons for termination include the following:

  • The employee has alien status. Provided an employee is legally eligible to be employed in America, they cannot be dismissed simply because of alien status.
  • Retaliation. Firing an employee for asserting their rights as governed by state or federal discrimination laws can be deemed retaliatory. 
  • Discrimination. It is illegal to dismiss someone as a result of their race, national origin, religion, gender or disability status. Age also falls into this category, provided the employee is 40 or over. Some states also have sexual orientation in this category.
  • An employee making an OSHA violation complaint. An employee cannot legally be fired for reporting OSHA violations.

These are but a few examples of unacceptable reasons for dismissal. Of course, legislation varies from state to state and every case is different, so it is important to know your rights. If you feel you have been unfairly dismissed, an attorney may be able to review your case and help you decide what to do next.

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