What Are the Wrongful Termination Laws in Virginia?
Virginia wrongful termination claims are often complex. Most states, including Virginia, are “at-will” employment states. This means that you can quit or be fired at any time and for almost any reason. Your employer is not required to give you a specific reason for termination.
Federal law prohibits Virginia employers from firing an employee based on their race, color, national origin, sex, pregnancy, religion, age, disability, or citizenship. However, smaller employers may not need to comply with these laws. Additionally, Virginia law prohibits employment discrimination based on race, color, national origin, sex, pregnancy, religion, disability, age, genetic information, or marital status.
When is it Illegal to Fire a Virginia Employee?
It is illegal to fire an employee in Virginia if the reason for the termination is based on discrimination or if the termination violates a state or federal law. An example may be if a pregnant woman is fired for exercising her right to take leave under the federal Family and Medical Leave Act. Wrongful termination claims in Virginia are most successful when they are based on these statutory types of violations.
Wrongful Termination Breach of Employment Contract
Wrongful termination claims can be based on a breach of employment contract in Virginia. However, even if the parties have a contract, there is a presumption in Virginia law that the employment is at-will. So, it is incumbent on the part of the employee to show the contract limited the employers right to terminate them.
Violation of Public Policy
An employer cannot terminate an employee in Virginia if doing so violates public policy. For example, it would violate public policy if an employer fired an employee for obeying the law or for refusing to commit a crime in the course of their employment. However, the policy must be substantial and usually based on a law or constitutional provision.
Penalties for Wrongful Termination
The most common penalty for wrongful termination is financial including fines and compensation the employee’s for lost wages. The employer may be required to reinstate the employee and to restore their benefits.
The Severance Alternative
After employment litigation, it is often the case that returning to the former employer is not desirable for either party. Employers will frequently offer the employee a severance package or other form of settlement to end the case. Settlements are always negotiable and may produce a better outcome than continued litigation.
If your employer fires you and presents you with a severance agreement, schedule an appointment without experienced Blacksburg VA employment lawyer before you sign away your valuable rights.
Virginia Wrongful Termination Attorney
Schedule a consultation with our experienced Virginia wrongful termination attorney. We can help you determine if you have a claim and the right course of action for your case. Wrongful termination is not something that you should try to take on yourself. Blacksburg Wrongful termination attorney Jeffrey Van Doren knows how to get you the best possible outcome. Contact us today.