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By Louise Herman

When searching for jobs, you may have discovered that a number of postings in Rhode Island have mentioned “at-will” employment. Though this may seem like a relatively new practice, at-will employment can be traced back to the nineteenth century! However, there are some stipulations employers must follow. Keep reading to learn more about this term and discover how a Providence, Rhode Island wrongful termination lawyer can help if you’ve been fired under unlawful circumstances with “at-will” employment as an excuse.

What Is At-Will Employment?

At-will employment is a form of hiring that allows an employer or employee to terminate the working relationship at any time, for any reason, without notice. It is a common misconception that staff must always provide two weeks’ notice before leaving a job. While this is a courtesy, it is not required. Similarly, employers have the right under at-will employment to alter employment terms, wages, and benefits without notice.

However, this does not mean a company can fire workers for unlawful reasons. Firing for illegal reasons is an unlawful act known as wrongful termination.

What Constitutes Wrongful Termination?

Though employers do not have to provide a reason for terminating an employee, it is often apparent when a wrongful termination has occurred.

Under federal and state laws, employers may not fire staff for a number of reasons. These include:

  • Discrimination of protected classes (race, gender, ethnicity, disability, sexuality, national origin, religion)
  • Acts of retaliation (such as penalizing an employee for whistleblowing)
  • Breaching employment contracts with workers
  • An employee who refuses to violate public policy

Though Rhode Island is an at-will employment state, you do not have to accept wrongful termination. While your employer may not have explicitly fired you because you are of a different race, the emails with microaggressions and your squeaky clean personal files may be able to help prove that this was an act of discrimination rather than poor preformance. Similarly, if terminated a week after you blew the whistle on your company for exposing safety issues that your employers tried to sweep under the rug, this would likely be considered an illegal act of retaliation.

What Should I Do if I Believe I’ve Been Wrongfully Terminated?

If you believe you were wrongfully terminated, the most important thing you must do is contact an attorney as soon as possible. This is essential, as the sooner you file a lawsuit, the better. You also have limited time to bring a claim forward, making it even more vital to reach out to an experienced employment lawyer.

You should also gather evidence that can help improve your chances of success. This includes emails, texts, coworkers who can attest to your treatment, and any additional documents that can help prove your case.

When you need help, the Herman Law Group is here to help. Our dedicated legal team has the experience you need to provide you with the necessary advice on how to proceed. Contact us today for more information.

About the Author
At Herman Law Group, our focus is on safeguarding the rights and careers of employees and businesses alike. With over 35 years of successful legal practice, Louise A. Herman brings an invaluable dual perspective from representing both employees and employers. This unique insight allows us to effectively achieve successful outcomes for our clients in Rhode Island, Massachusetts, and nationwide.