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At-Will Employees and Wrongful Termination


An at-will employee is a person who can be terminated for any reason, or can leave their job for any reason, that is not illegal or does not break a collective bargaining agreement or written contract. Ohio is an at-will employment state. But, if you are fired from a job for a reason that is in violation of a state or federal law, compensation may be possible. Discuss your situation with a Columbus employment attorney.

Evidence of Illegal Action

Because many positions are at will, employers are often within their rights to terminate an employee. Whether the worker did something wrong or not is not part of the discussion regarding wrongful termination. There needs to be evidence that an employee was let go for an illegal reason, which could include one or more of the following.

  • Terminating an employee because of their race, age, disability, religion, military status, or gender.
  • Using a firing as retaliation after an employee engages in an activity that is protected.
  • Violations of anti-discrimination laws.

Of course, there are also times when wrongful termination is in connection with an employer breaching an employment contract. The contract is a legal document in place that illustrates the expectations and pay of a position. Both employee and employer agree to the terms. In this type of situation the relationship is not at will, it is contractual. If those terms are broken, the termination could warrant legal action.

Most commonly, wrongful termination happens when an employee is discriminated against. If you belong to a protected group, you can’t be fired for discriminatory practices against that group.

Each situation has its own nuances and it is important you talk to a Columbus employment attorney as soon as you feel you are being targeted. There are many steps to proving wrongful termination. Some of the evidence that may be helpful:

  • Copies of any and all employment contracts.
  • Communications within the organization, including emails, texts, and voicemails.
  • Pay stubs and benefit packages.
  • Statements from witnesses.

An experienced lawyer knows what you need and how to move forward. If you have reached out to your human resources representative and still feel your rights are being violated, connect with a legal professional.

Retaliation and Whistleblowing

An employer that terminates an employee after a complaint could be unlawful employment retaliation, for example. If you were fired after complaining about sexual harassment, that would be a wrongful termination.

Similarly, whistleblowing protections are in place for workers who come forward when their employer is participating in illegal activities or doing things that are harmful to the public or the community the organization serves. Firing a person for bringing illegal issues to light could result in legal action and compensation for the whistleblower, an individual who may have lost wages and benefits for doing the right thing.

Do you believe you were fired illegally because of retaliation or because you were a whistleblower in the state of Ohio? Contact the lawyers at Coffman Legal LLC today. We are strong and committed advocates for all Ohio workers and use our experience and knowledge to help you. Call 614-949-1181 for a free and confidential consultation.


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