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When Does Being Fired Count as Unlawful Termination?

After a person is fired from his job, he may question the employer’s intent. Was the firing justified or could it have been based on an illegal basis? There are some ways it could be considered wrongful termination, but many employers abide by an at-will employment policy which states that the employment relationship can be ended either by the employee or the employer without any notice or even a reason.

If an employee has a written contract or statement that promises job security, they have proof that they are not an at-will employee and can use that in court. This holds even if the report states specific reasons why a company could terminate that individual. If you believe your firing was illegal, a Denver wrongful termination attorney can examine your contract and other evidence to determine whether the company violated any laws.

When is Termination Protected By Law?

An employee can be considered to have been wrongfully terminated when the employer-based the termination on an illegal basis like discrimination. An employee who was fired for whistleblowing, or alerting the authorities that the employer is involved in illegal conduct, may also have grounds for a wrongful termination lawsuit. In Colorado, employers who violate public policy when terminating employees may also face legal repercussions.

Broken Implied Promises May Highlight Wrongful Termination

Employees who enter into contracts with their employers may be exempt from at-will employment rules. An employee who enters a contract that promises job security may have grounds for a wrongful termination claim when the employer breaks the contract by firing him.

Employees who enter verbal contracts that promise security are also exempt from at-will employment laws; however, it is much more difficult to prove a verbal contract existed. An example of a verbal contract may be an employer promising an employee that he will receive the next promotion or having discussions about placing that employee on a project taking place months later. If the employee can show that the employer failed to uphold these promises, it can support his claim against termination.

These instances can be particularly difficult to use as evidence as they are not documented. An attorney may examine the employment manual to see if it details specific guidelines that prove the at-will policy doesn’t stand. Colorado courts will consider certain factors in an implied contract, including the following:

  • Assurances the individual would have continued employment
  • Duration of the person’s employment
  • History of positive performance reviews
  • Regular job promotions
  • Whether the employer violated a standard employment practice in the termination
  • Whether the employer made promises of long-term employment upon hiring the individual

It’s crucial for employees to get as much documentation as possible about the specifications of their positions. If you seek to bring forth a claim against your employer for wrongful termination, it is crucial to document as much evidence as possible. This may mean taking measures to communicate in writing as much as possible to establish recordings of promises, assignments, and any other vital work-related information.

Breaches of Good Faith, Fair Dealing, and Federal Laws

If an employer unfairly fires an employee, the individual may have a valid claim for breach of duty of good faith and fair dealing if there is proof of an actual contract. The court can find an employer guilty of this when evidence is presented that the employer engaged in:

  • Fabricating reasons for terminating the employee when the real goal is to hire someone who will accept lower pay
  • Firing an employee to prevent them from earning sales commissions
  • Misleading employees about their chances for raises and promotions
  • Repeatedly transferring an employee to someplace remote or dangerous or giving them generally undesirable assignments to force them to quit without getting benefits they are due
  • Soft-pedaling bad aspects of a job, such as forcing an employee to travel to dangerous areas late at night

Additionally, violating public policy when firing an employee is illegal in Colorado. Examples of this may include firing an employee who took time off to vote or serve on a jury.

Seek Justice with a Denver Wrongful Termination Lawyer

If you believe your employer has violated a federal or state law in Colorado when terminating your employment, it’s important to discuss your case with an experienced employment lawyer in Denver. With more than 55 years of experience, Nathan Davidovich can help you present a claim that shows your employer acted in bad faith.

The Davidovich Law Firm, LLC has helped many Colorado workers fight back against wrongful termination in Denver. For a free consultation, call us at 303-825-5529 or fill out our contact form.