Most employees in the United States work under the ‘employment at will’ state of government. This means that an employer retains the right to fire someone whenever he or she chooses for whatever reason they want or without presenting a reason altogether. However, there still remain a few grounds on which the law doesn’t permit an employee to be fired. Here are top six illegal reasons for firing employees.
The number one illegal reason for firing a person is discrimination of all kind. According to federal law, an employer is not permitted to lay off someone because of their race, nationality, gender, religion, disability or genetic information. It’s also important to note that, even though this is a federal law, most states have it as well. If you want to know more about this, you should check out how your own state treats discrimination in the workplace legally.
2. Pregnancy and Childbirth
There are a number of employers who prefer to let go or not hire altogether women who are pregnant, who have just given birth or who have a condition related to childbirth. This is illegal. If the woman that works for you can show up on time every day and perform the tasks that are given to her in a correct and satisfactory manner, her personal situation should not matter.
The law also forbids an employer to fire someone for claiming their rights according to all the laws we described above. To make matters clearer, an employee can complain that you might have treated him or her differently or even fired them on a discrimination basis. Independently if this is true or not, if they decide to sue you, they might win. This is called retaliation.
4. Refusing to Take a Lie Detector Test
As mentioned in the introduction, there are not a lot of illegal reasons for firing employees. But this is definitely one of them. You simply cannot force a person to take a lie detector test. There is even a federal law against that, called the Employee Polygraph Protection Act.
5. Being a Foreigner
As long as the person holds legal rights to work in the United States, you cannot fire them for being of a different nationality. This is another federal law, called the IRCA or the Immigration Reform and Control Act. It would be funny and a bit ironic to deny a job to a foreigner in America, wouldn’t it?
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This applies to workers who are above the age of 40. If you replace them with a younger employee, they can file a lawsuit against you for wrongful termination on the grounds of age discrimination. Evidently, this is illegal. You have to have a solid reason why you laid off an older person than simply his or her age.
As you can see, even though America has employment at-will, it can still be tricky when you’re a manager and want to fire someone. Illegal reasons for firing employees include discrimination when it comes to gender, race, nationality or age, being a foreigner, retaliation, refusal to take a lie detector test and much more. Breaking the law on any of these accounts can mean a lawsuit.