The general rule of employment in Arizona is referred to as “employment at-will.” This means that your employer can fire you for any reason or no reason at all, and you will not have a legal remedy for a wrongful termination lawsuit.
However, as with most areas of the law, there are exceptions. If your employer terminates your employment due to discrimination, retaliation, or other improper reasons, you may have a basis for a wrongful termination lawsuit, which could entitle you to lost wages, reinstatement, and possibly other damages.
Wrongful Termination Based on Breach of Contract
While the general rule in Arizona is at-will employment, parties are free to create employment contracts that set their own terms of employment. If your employment contract guaranteed you employment for a number of years and your employer ended your employment prematurely, you may have a breach of contract claim.
Your employment contract could also create additional duties, such as a requirement that your employer give you warnings or written notices before termination. You will need to have an employment law attorney carefully read your employment contract to determine if any provisions have been violated.
It is a violation of federal law to discriminate in employment decisions, including termination, based on race, color, national origin, religion, gender, age, pregnancy, disability, genetic information, or citizenship status. However, these laws generally only apply to employers with 15 or more employees. Arizona also has similar laws that protect against employment discrimination.
You will not be able to file a lawsuit in court without first filing a claim with either the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) or the Arizona Civil Rights Division (CRD). After the appropriate agency has investigated your claim, you may be permitted to sue your employer for employment discrimination.
Your employer cannot fire you in retaliation for asserting your rights under federal or Arizona law. For example, if you file a complaint because your employer is not paying overtime wages, and your employer then fires you, you may have a wrongful termination claim.
Similar retaliatory situations can arise if you file a workers’ compensation claim after you are injured at work, or if you allege discriminatory employment practices against your employer.
To determine if your termination was wrongful under Arizona or federal law, discuss your case with a wrongful termination attorney. You will need to explain all the facts that led to your termination before an attorney can tell you what remedies are available to you.
Chernoff Law handles business and employment law matters based on both federal and Arizona law. Contact us to discuss your case with an experienced business litigation attorney.