Understanding what exactly constitutes the firing of an employee as a wrongful termination in New York can be confusing. A boss could fire an employee simply for not liking them. The employee may be a hard worker, and intuition may say that firing a good, hardworking employee simply because you do not like them is unfair. However, unfair is not the same thing as illegal.
Under federal law, all employees around the nation are protected from discrimination based on the grounds of the employee's ethnic or national origin, color, race, age, pregnancy, religion or sex. Beyond that, New York is an "at will" employment state, which means that an employer can fire an employee for virtually any reason beyond the protected classes just listed if there is not a contract or other circumstance stipulating otherwise.
There are a few other reasons that employees in New York are not allowed to be terminated for based upon state laws. For example, New York also has a state law that protects employees from discrimination based upon their engagement in political activities that do not occur within the workplace. Further, victims of domestic violence are also afforded some additional protection as well.
Therefore, unless an employee is fired on grounds that are protected under federal or state law, even if it is unfair, there is often little that the employee can do by way of legal recourse. An employee working in another state discussed her beliefs that gun controlled should be strengthened in the break room in front of her boss that is a gun collector. She was subsequently fired a few days later and feels that this unfair firing warrants a lawsuit. Unfortunately, while this employee feels the circumstances surrounding her firing are unfair, was this to happen in New York, there would likely be little grounds for a lawsuit.
Employment law can be difficult to understand. However, in instances where an individual is fired under illegal circumstances in New York, it is important the employee exercise their rights. Speaking with an experienced employment law attorney can assist an individual in understanding if they were wrongfully terminated and how they can go about seeking legal recourse.
Source: CNNMoney, "Wrongful termination: What is it - and isn't," Anne Fisher, Feb. 22, 2013