Trusted Columbia Wrongful Termination Attorney Ready To Help You
Like most states, Maryland is an at-will employment state, meaning that employees and employers are able to sever the employment relationship at their will. An employer can terminate an employee for almost any reason so long as the termination is not illegal or against public policy. Public or government employees may have the right to a due-process hearing before being fired. However, such protections do not exist for at-will employees – which make up the vast majority of American workers. This means that most employees in the U.S. can be fired without any notice at all, without a hearing or any meaningful chance to defend themselves. In fact, this is often why employees form labor unions: to protect their rights in the absence of these protections.
With two decades of legal experience, Columbia wrongful termination lawyer, Joyce E. Smithey, and her team of talented legal professionals bring a wealth of knowledge and experience to pursue and defend against claims regarding wrongful discharge.
Wrongful termination cases may involve a variety of laws, depending on the legal argument. These laws include statutes pertaining to contracts and public policies throughout the state. These types of cases often turn to similar case law and precedent, requiring the help of a knowledgeable Columbia wrongful discharge lawyer who can understand the nuances of these cases.
Wrongful Termination Claims in Maryland
For an employee to prevail with a wrongful termination claim, he or she must be able to show that the termination was one of the following:
A Violation of an Employment Contract
Most employees do not have an employment contract. But if they do and the employer fires them, they may be able to file a wrongful termination claim if the discharge was not pursuant to the contract. An employment contract can be expressed (such as a written contract) or implied (for example, the employer assures the employee of continued employment by stating that, as long as the work is satisfactory, the employee can count on having the job).
In Violation of a Law
Although an employer can fire employees for any reason, an employer cannot fire someone for an illegal reason, such as:
- Firing the employee because of his or her race, religion, national origin, sex, color, pregnancy status, or marital status
- Terminating the employee due to his or her sexual orientation or gender identity
- Discharging the employee due to age or disability
Against Public Policy
This last type of wrongful termination claim is based on better societal good. The state does not want to encourage employers to take action against an employee who is doing the right thing. If an employer tries to contravene public policy by terminating an employee under certain circumstances, the employee may have a valid claim for wrongful termination in violation of public policy. Some of these situations may include:
- Firing an employee who asserted his or her rights to minimum wage
- Firing an employee for reporting the employer to government authority for violations, such as tax violations, safety violations, or immigration violations
- Retaliating against an employee for filing a workers’ compensation claim
- Discharging an employee for refusing to commit criminal acts on behalf of the employer
- Firing an employee who served as a witness for another employee’s discrimination claim
- Terminating employees who engaged in lawful union-organizing activities
In order for an employee to have a valid basis for a wrongful termination case on this basis, he or she must be able to prove the connection between the act he or she took, the public policy to be protected by taking this act, and the termination. Let a proven Columbia wrongful termination attorney at Smithey Law Group LLC assist you with your case.
There is another category of laws that protect employees from being terminated for all the wrong reasons. These are called whistle-blower laws, and they exist on both the federal and state level. The most well-known federal law that protects whistle-blowers is the False Claims Act, and you can access a copy of a primer that explains the law in detail online.
Right to Time Off Work in Maryland
Employees have the right to time off for various civic duties and some personal reasons. These rights are codified in both state and federal statutes. So if an employer attempts to retaliate against an employee based on one of the reasons below, it is considered an illegal firing and can be contested in court.
When you are called for jury duty, your employer must allow you to take unpaid time off of work to fulfill this obligation. Attempting to force employees to use sick time or vacation time to compensate for jury duty is not allowed, and violators may be subject to criminal fines.
If an employee has two hours off during voting hours, then they should use that time to vote. However, if the employee doesn’t have a two-hour window open wherein they can vote, the employer must give them up to two hours of paid leave for this purpose.
Federal Family Medical Leave Act
Companies with over 50 employees must allow workers to take up to 12 weeks of unpaid family medical time off per year for things like pregnancy, illness, or the illness of a family member.
Serving in the Military
Federal law mandates that employees cannot be discriminated against because of prior military service. It further states that employers must allow up to five years of leave for employees who wish to serve in the military. In addition, the employer must hold the employee’s job open for them upon their return.
Essentially, these laws exist in order to encourage employees, who are aware of any illegal conduct on the part of their employer, to come forward and report the illegal activity to the proper government authorities. When the employer learns that a certain employee “blew the whistle” on the illegal activity, they are not allowed to fire that employee or to retaliate against them in any way. If you are an employee who has been retaliated against for these reasons, contact Joyce Smithey right away to discuss how to best protect your rights.
Damages Available in Maryland Wrongful Discharge Cases
Employees who are successful with a wrongful discharge claim in Maryland may be able to receive compensation for the damages that they have sustained. These damages are based on the financial losses that they suffered as a result of the wrongful discharge and may include such items as:
- Back pay for the time that they should have been paid had the wrongful termination not occurred
- Legal fees and costs to pursue the case
- Payment for lost benefits
- Payment for emotional distress and other non-economic damages
- Payment for educational expenses incurred in direct connection to obtaining particular job skills or education requested by the employer
Additionally, the employee may be entitled to equitable relief, such as being reinstated to his or her prior position. Well regarded Columbia wrongful termination lawyer, Joyce E. Smithey, can discuss the particular damages that may apply in your particular case.
Contact Wrongful Discharge Attorney, Joyce E. Smithey, for Help with Your Case
If you believe that you were wrongfully discharged in violation of Maryland employment laws or you are an employer who is facing a claim of wrongful termination, it is important to contact an experienced Columbia wrongful termination attorney at Smithey Law Group LLC. Columbia lawyer, Joyce E. Smithey, will discuss your case with you in confidence. Schedule a confidential consultation by calling or contacting us online today.