Although it may seem counterintuitive, employees extremely dedicated to their jobs may face a greater risk to their continued employment than those less committed. This phenomenon could be the result of the employees' determination to uphold the accuracy, truthfulness, or safety of their professions, even when those characteristics prove unpopular. Fortunately, there are variety of employee rights that work to protect employees in these situations from wrongful termination.
An acclaimed hurricane scientist in Louisiana recently achieved a victory in his years-long wrongful termination lawsuit against LSU. Although he was cheered by the public after Hurricane Katrina by leading investigations that revealed the city's flooding was due to poorly designed floodwalls which collapsed-instead of being overrun by the storm surge-the university reacted less positively. According to the lawsuit, LSU administration first attempted to silence and discredit the scientist before ultimately firing him. As a result, the scientist filed a lawsuit alleging that he had been denied tenured wrongfully and the dismissal did not follow university protocol. After years of fighting, LSU recently decided to settle, although the terms of the settlement were not disclosed.
Many people commonly speak of employment at will, but this does not mean that employers can do anything they wish in terms of firing or dismissing employees. There are many different situations where an employer may wish to fire an employee. If an employee is failing to perform his job duties or acting inappropriately, the dismissal may be warranted. If employees are revealing unsafe conditions or illegal practices employers want to conceal and get fired as a result, however, the employees may be entitled to compensation if they bring a wrongful termination lawsuit.
Wrongful termination situations can arise when employees attempt to assert their rights regarding pay or overtime. Fortunately, employees do not have to choose between receiving the pay they deserve and maintaining their employment. The Fair Labor Standards Act specifically prohibits employees from retaliating against employees asserting their rights under the law. While employment law can be complicated, it is there to protect the rights of employees. An experienced attorney can help explain its provisions and assist in using the law to provide for an employee's professional security.
Source: The Lens, "Ivor van Heerden, LSU settle wrongful termination lawsuit," Bob Marshall, Feb. 12, 2013