Employment Law

Personal Injury

What constitutes wrongful termination in Missouri?

On Behalf of | Mar 4, 2024 | Uncategorized |

Workers in Missouri have relatively little job security. A company struggling financially might lay off numerous workers all at once. Businesses trying to streamline their operations or expand certain departments may target specific employees for termination with minimal warning.

The courts in Missouri have repeatedly reinforced the idea that almost all work arrangements in Missouri are at-will employment agreements. Both the individual employees and the companies that hire them can terminate a work relationship for any reason or no specific reason whatsoever. With that said, terminations may not be conducted for unlawful reasons, even in at-will situations. Missouri workers who lose their jobs, and believe that their termination was wrongful, may be in a position to take legal action. What constitutes wrongful termination in Missouri?

Legal violations can lead to wrongful terminations

While companies can technically fire workers for a single behavioral incident or poor performance, there are statutes that restrict terminations in certain scenarios. Specifically, companies cannot discriminate when deciding who to keep on staff. They also cannot retaliate against workers who have made use of legal workplace rights.

Discrimination comes in many forms. Missouri state law and federal statutes prohibit employers from considering someone’s medical condition, their religion or their sex when deciding who to hire or fire. The law also prohibits discrimination based on race, genetic information, age if someone is over 40 and national origin.

If employers specifically referenced a protected characteristic when explaining the decision to terminate a worker, then an employee may have reason to believe that the firing was discriminatory and therefore wrongful. If someone loses their job as part of a mass staffing reduction, the disproportionate inclusion of one group of workers in the pool of people terminated could be an indicator of discrimination.

Wrongful terminations related to retaliation are a bit different. Retaliatory firings take place after a worker engages in certain legally protected behaviors. Workers have a right to unionize with one another and to share necessary information when organizing. Companies cannot prohibit workers from sharing information about their wages or punish them for communicating with union representatives.

Workers also have protection if they must report sexual harassment, discriminatory conduct or workplace safety violations. If someone loses their job immediately after notifying their employer or regulatory authorities about workplace infractions, then the termination could be wrongful according to current Missouri statutes.

Workers can sometimes ask the courts to reinstate them to a position after a wrongful termination. They could also sometimes request financial compensation for the economic consequences of their sudden job loss. Understanding what could constitute a wrongful termination under Missouri law may help people make use of their employment rights and stand up to business misconduct.

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