Maryland is an at-will employment state, which generally means that an employer can terminate employment at any time and for almost any reason. Employers don’t have to give notice or explain the reasoning behind the termination… but the reason is sometimes obvious, and may give employees a cause of action for wrongful termination.
If an employee is terminated in violation of an employment contract, because of illegal discrimination, or as retaliation for legally protected activities, that employee may have a cause of action against the employer for wrongful termination.
Employment contracts most often reinforce Maryland’s at-will employment policy, but they will sometimes grant an employee certain rights to notice, delineate acceptable grounds for termination, or may be influenced by union collective bargaining agreements.
Illegal discrimination is described in several Federal and Maryland state statutes, and includes prohibitions against firing employees on the basis of race, gender, religion, disability, age, or sexual orientation, among others.
Retaliatory discharge is any discharge in violation of a clear mandate of public policy. Thus, whistleblowers or employees who simply object to illegal practices within the company cannot be fired for filing complaints. Employees are also protected against retaliation for exercising their rights to vote, filing worker’s compensation claims, serving jury duty, or taking family and medical leave, among others.
Though many laws specifically apply only to larger employers (15+), they may still be applied to smaller employers, depending on the case and the circumstances.
If you feel your employment has been wrongfully terminated by your employer, the Maryland law firm of Nagle & Zaller, P.C. would be happy to review your case and discuss your options. Contact us today.