How Do Employers Hide Wrongful Termination?

Posted May 16th, 2024.

Categories: Blog.

man being fired holding box

If you ever reported a supervisor for harassment in the workplace, for example, and were fired soon after, you may have experienced what is known as wrongful termination. Wrongful termination is the firing of an employee for unlawful reasons. Employers may attempt to hide wrongful termination to avoid the legal consequences of their actions. Speak with a Cherry Hill employment law attorney for representation during your wrongful termination lawsuit.

Examples of Wrongful Termination

There are a number of reasons why people get fired that violate wrongful termination laws. The following are some examples of illegal reasons to terminate someone’s employment.

  • Retaliation for anything including reporting unlawful conduct, e.g. harassment or discrimination
  • The employee’s citizenship status
  • The employee refuses to take a lie detector test
  • The employee refuses to participate in criminal behavior or violate public policy

How Do Employers Try to Hide Wrongful Termination?

An employer is not going to blatantly engage in wrongful termination practices. If they did, the employee could pursue legal action against them. Instead, the employer will attempt to disguise the wrongdoing under the guise of firing the employee for some other reason. Some common ways that employers attempt to hide their wrongful termination can include:

Elimination of the role

  • If your employer really wants to fire you, they may tell you that they have eliminated your position at the company because it was unnecessary. This is a perfectly acceptable reason to let someone go. However, if they wanted you gone for a different reason they may have made this up. Some companies will fire an employee because they say they do not need the role, then they will rename the position and fill it with a new hire or someone from within the company.

Progressive discipline:

  • Progressive discipline is a tactic where your employer delays your firing. Terminating your employment immediately might be too obvious depending on the situation, so they will take some time, maybe months, to start nitpicking at your performance. They will start finding issues where there aren’t any and writing you up for seemingly nothing. This gives them enough time to create documentation of the reasons why you are being fired so when they eventually do terminate your employment they can provide proof of performance issues.

Mass layoffs

  • Company downsizing is often a necessary, albeit unfortunate, reality of the corporate world. If you were involved in a situation that resulted in your employer wanting to fire you, they may take this opportunity to terminate your employment inconspicuously. Instead of saying they are firing you because you reported a higher-up for harassment, for example, they may say they are firing you because of a cost-saving measure.

No reason

  • A suspect reason that your employer is firing you could be no reason at all. They may cite a difference of opinions or lack of culture fit, or they may not give you any reason for your termination. If there is a valid reason for your termination, like poor attendance or performance problems, your employer would likely tell you that. Not being given a reason is a hint that your employer may be engaging in wrongful termination practices.
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