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I just lost my job. Can I sue?

You are not the first person to get fired, but that doesn't soften the blow, especially if your boss didn't give you a concrete reason for your termination. If being fired has left you struggling to pay your bills while also looking for work, you may have a feeling that something was not right with the way you were let go.

Many states, including Arizona, are "at-will" employment states, meaning an employer needs no reason to fire an employee. The manager or business owner does not need to provide notice before terminating you, and you can quit your job anytime you want to without giving a reason. This arrangement can give both sides a lot of leeway, but it can also leave both sides with more questions than answers.

Wrongful termination, discrimination and retaliation

Many people take jobs without signing a contract. However, if you signed a contract when you accepted the job, the contract itself may outline more specific reasons why management can or cannot fire you. In some cases, an employee handbook will contain statements that protect you from termination without a valid reason. This is known as an implied contract, and some states accept implied contracts as exceptions to the at-will rule. Arizona also forbids employers from firing workers just to avoid covering their benefits or paying their commissions.

Most importantly, an employer cannot fire you on the basis of discrimination. Federal law protects you from losing your job on the basis of:

  • Disability
  • Race
  • Religion
  • Gender
  • Sexual orientation
  • Age

In addition, an employer cannot fire you in retaliation for blowing the whistle on some wrongdoing in the company.

How do I prove wrongful termination?

While it may not seem fair that you lost your job, unfairness is not necessarily grounds for you to file a wrongful termination claim against your former employer. However, at-will employment does not give an employer the right to fire you for discriminatory or retaliatory reasons. Nevertheless, proving that your employer wrongfully terminated you is a difficult task.

If you believe your boss fired you out of retaliation or for some discriminatory reason, you have every right to seek legal counsel for advice about filing a wrongful termination claim. An employment law attorney can help determine whether you have a valid claim. If you do, an experienced lawyer can represent you and guide you through the litigation process. You can expect aggressive representation from a lawyer who is passionate about defending the rights of workers.

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