Termination of Employment: The Illegal Reasons

The State of Indiana is considered an employment-at-will state. Thus, an employer can terminate an employee for any reason, whether good or bad. In fact, an employer does not have to even give a reason unless a reason is requested by the employee in writing. Despite this seemingly unfettered discretion, the employer is prohibited from terminating an employee for an illegal reason.

The most common illegal reasons include terminating an employee because of their age, gender, race, national origin, religion, etc. It is also illegal for an employer to terminate an employee because the employee attempts to exercise his or her rights under the Indiana Worker’s Compensation Act. It is also illegal for an employer to terminate any employee because the employee refuses to commit an illegal act at the request of his or her employer.

Employees in the State of Indiana have several different statutes that provide protection to them. The most common laws that protect workers from wrongful termination include:

This federal statute prohibits discrimination because of race, color, religion, sex, or national origin. These types of claims are commonly known as Title VII claims. If an employee believes he or she was discriminated against based upon any of the above-described factors, then the employee is required to file a Charge of Discrimination with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) or the state agency equivalent in order to exhaust their administrative remedies.

The federal statute prohibits age discrimination of those between the ages of 40 and 65.

This federal statute prohibits discrimination against qualified individuals who have disabilities or perceived disabilities.

The Family and Medical Leave Act affords a qualified employee up to twelve (12) weeks of leave in certain circumstances and prohibits an employer from terminating an employee for exercising his or her FMLA rights and protects a qualified employee from an employer’s unlawful interference with employee’s FMLA rights.

Essentially, FMLA provides qualified employees with up to 12 weeks of unpaid, job-protected leave per year. It also requires that their group health benefits be maintained during the leave.

FMLA is designed to help employees balance their work and family responsibilities by allowing them to take reasonable unpaid leave for certain family and medical reasons. It also seeks to accommodate the legitimate interests of employers and promote equal employment opportunity for men and women.

FMLA applies to all public agencies, all public and private elementary and secondary schools, and companies with 50 or more employees. These employers must provide an eligible employee with up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave each year for any of the following reasons:

for the birth and care of the newborn child of an employee;

for placement with the employee of a child for adoption or foster care;

to care for an immediate family member (spouse, child, or parent) with a serious health condition; or

to take medical leave when the employee is unable to work because of a serious health condition.

Employees are eligible for leave if they have worked for their employer at least 12 months, at least 1,250 hours over the past 12 months, and work at a location where the company employs 50 or more employees within 75 miles.

A Frampton Claim is a state law claim that gives an employee a cause of action if an employer terminates employment due to the employee’s exercising his or her rights under the Indiana Worker’s Compensation Act.

An employee who believes they have been wrongfully terminated should contact an

to discuss their legal rights and determine what options are available to them.