Maryland Wrongful Termination Attorneys for "At Will" Employees
Most workers in Maryland are what the law refers to as “at-will” employees. As a result, many employees are unsure as to whether or not they have a wrongful termination claim when they are fired or let go. The Maryland wrongful termination attorneys at the Stafford Law Firm assist workers with understanding their classification and fight for the rights of those whose employers did not follow Maryland law.
What Does “At Will” Employment Mean in Maryland?
Generally, if you do not have an employment contract with your employer, you are presumed to be an at-will employee. An at-will employment situation is one in which:
- Your employer may terminate your employment at any time and for any reason or no reason
- You may leave your job at any time and for any reason or no reason
- Your employer can change the terms of your employment with no notice
It is not always clear whether a particular employee is considered to be at-will, particularly if there is evidence of an implied employment contract (discussed below). If you are unsure of whether you are an at-will employee, it's best to consult with a Maryland wrongful termination attorney.
Exceptions to Termination of At-Will Employment in Maryland
As with most legal doctrines, there are exceptions to the general rule that an employer can terminate an at-will employee for any reason. There are three scenarios in which termination of an at-will employee may expose the employer to legal liability:
1. The Existence of an Employment Contract
Employment contracts do not always have to be written down and signed by their parties. In some cases, an employer may make certain verbal assurances — such as “you’ll have a job here as long as you want one” or “we’ll need your help for at least three years” — that can create an “implied contract.” Terminating an employee in violation of such an implied contract may constitute wrongful termination.
In Maryland, the Maryland Fair Employment Practices Act aims to ensure that every employee in the state is given equal opportunity in the workplace. As such, your employer may not terminate you, even if you are an at-will employee, for reasons based on:
- Ancestry or national origin
- Marital status
- Sexual orientation
- Gender identity
- Genetic information
If you can prove that your employer terminated you for one of the above prohibited reasons, you may be able to pursue a cause of action for wrongful termination. However, obtaining evidence of discrimination is often difficult, since direct evidence of discriminatory intent is usually nonexistent. Rather, an employee alleging wrongful termination based on discrimination must ordinarily rely on circumstantial evidence. Contact our Maryland wrongful termination attorneys for more information about proving discrimination in the workplace.
3. Violations of Public Policy
Maryland employers also may not terminate at-will employees if doing so would violate “a clear mandate of public policy.” This scenario is a bit murkier than the others due to the difficulty of determining what exactly a “clear mandate of public policy” is, but a few examples include:
- Firing an employee for refusing to participate in illegal activity at the employer’s request
- Firing an employee for filing a claim under the state’s workers’ compensation program
- Firing an employee for reporting violations of law by the employer to the proper authorities
Contact Our Maryland Wrongful Termination Attorneys Today
To discuss your specific situation, contact the Maryland wrongful termination attorneys at our firm today. Schedule an appointment via our contact form or by calling 410-514-6099. Our office is conveniently located in Baltimore.