Most employment is considered “at will,” which means that your employer can fire anyone at any time for any reason, or for no reason at all. And while that may sound like it could include “any” reason whatsoever, it actually only encompasses legal reasons. So how do you know if you have been legally fired? 

Most people can figure out whether or not they deserve to have their employment terminated, such as consistently showing up to work late. If you’ve ever made a major mistake at your job, you probably panicked over being fired for it. Those are legal reasons to terminate an employee, and evidence, such as time cards or recorded phone calls with customers, can serve as evidence of those rightful terminations.

But when a person is a victim of wrongful termination, they may be feeling a variety of feelings such as confusion, anger, stress, and fear over loss of income. By law, it is illegal to terminate an employee based on their:
  • Sex or gender
  • Race
  • Ethnicity
  • National origin
  • Religious beliefs
  • Disability
  • Age
There are steps you must follow in order to file your suit, so first you must determine whether or not you are an “at-will” employee. Most employees are, but if you have a contract, then your case may be handled differently.
Written Contract

A written contract is an agreement between you and your employer that outlines:
  • Your wages or salary
  • Duration of employment
  • Primary responsibilities
  • Rules regarding email and phone use
  • Social media policy
  • Confidentiality statement
  • Benefits (health insurance, 401K, sick and vacation time, and other perks)
  • A non-complete clause, if applicable
A contract may also include other documents specific to your company. Usually, all of these items are printed, signed, and duplicated so both the employer and the employee have a copy.

Implied Promise

If your employer has said something that gave you the impression that your employment would be guaranteed. Most employers are careful not to make such suggestive statements, but they can come out, and these statements are usually very perplexing to employees. It may be a comment about a future event that only a select group of employees are invited to be part of, or implied promise of being part of a big project. Because these are so difficult to prove, the court will review the following:
  • If employment was implied to be guaranteed during the interview or hiring process
  • How long you’ve been employed
  • How often you have been promoted within your company
  • Your previous performance reviews
  • Statements or actions taken that caused you to believe you’d have continued employment
  • Whether or not your employer took the proper steps in firing you


Because you need to file a complaint of discrimination with a state or federal agency, it’s important to take the correct steps and hire an attorney who will help you do that. You cannot sue your employer until you have followed the proper process. Again, no employer is allowed to fire an employee based on their race, religion, age, and other protected reasons.


By law, you are protected from being fired in retaliation for participating in a protected activity. These include reporting sexual harassment, discrimination or filing a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. If you received negative performance reviews and/or were fired after participating in one of those protected activities, then click here.