(Last Updated On: October 25, 2023)
As an “at-will” state, Massachusetts employers and employees have the liberty to end their employment relationship for reasons that might be justifiable, unjustifiable, or even without any specific reason. However, this freedom is not absolute. The law prohibits termination for illegal reasons, such as discrimination or unlawful retaliation.
There are a variety of factors that play a role in wrongful termination in MA. The complexity of these scenarios often makes them overwhelming to handle without assistance. Join us as we explore the signs that might indicate you have a case, and how Rodman Employment Law can assist you through these challenging situations.
1. Discrimination-Related Termination
One of the most glaring signs of wrongful termination is when the dismissal is tied to discrimination. If your termination is linked to aspects such as age, sex, race, religion, disability, or any other protected characteristic, it could be a clear violation of employment laws. For instance, if patterns emerge where employees of a certain age group or gender are being disproportionately terminated, it may signal discriminatory practices.
2. Retaliation for Protected Activities
If you’ve engaged in protected activities — such as filing a harassment claim, participating in an investigation against your employer, or asserting a legal right like filing a wage claim — and subsequently face termination, this could be a case of retaliatory dismissal. Employers cannot lawfully terminate your employment for asserting your legal rights or participating in activities that are protected under federal and/or Massachusetts employment laws.
3. Violation of Employment Contract
While most Massachusetts employees are at-will, some employees will have an employment agreement outlining the terms and conditions of their employment. If your employer terminates you in violation of those terms, you may have a breach of contract claim. Certain professions are more likely to have an employment agreement than others; for example, doctors, professors, and business executives often negotiate the terms of their employment prior to their start date. Be sure to review your employment agreement if you are terminated to ensure that the termination complied with the procedure bargained for in the agreement.
4. Inconsistencies in Termination Reasons
If your employer provides inconsistent or shifting reasons for your termination, it might be a red flag. For instance, if you were initially told that your termination was due to performance issues but later informed that it was due to company downsizing, such inconsistencies might indicate a hidden, unlawful motive behind the dismissal.
5. Disregard for Company Termination Policies
Employers should adhere to their own policies and procedures when terminating an employee. If there is a clear deviation or disregard for the established termination or disciplinary procedures outlined in your employee handbook, it might be a sign that your dismissal was not entirely above board.
Navigating Through Wrongful Termination with Rodman Employment Law
It can be difficult to know whether your termination is unlawful. Rodman Employment Law, with our years of experience and a trusted reputation in Massachusetts, is here to support you as you face the complexities of a potential wrongful termination case. Reach out to us today and take a step towards understanding your rights under Massachusetts employment laws.