News - Tag Archives: at-will

Wrongful Termination as an At-Will Employee in the State of West Virginia

West Virginia classifies employees as “at will” status. This means that employees can essentially be fired at any time for any reason or even for no reason at all. With such laws existing, it may seem impossible for employees to file a claim against their employers. However, there are certain situations that fall into the category of wrongful termination and can be pursued in the courts. The following are reasons for wrongful termination in the state of West Virginia:

  • Discrimination
  • Breach of Contract
  • Schedule and Pay
  • Leave
  • State Claims


At no time can an employee be terminated based on discriminatory bias. While employees are protected on the federal level, West Virginia has state laws that enhance the restrictions of termination based on an individual’s special characteristics. Such discrimination characteristics include:

  • Race
  • Color
  • National origin
  • Ancestry
  • Sex
  • Religion
  • Blindness
  • Disability
  • Age
  • HIV/AIDS status

Breach of Contract

The state of West Virginia deems contracts as legally binding. This means that if an employer has a contract or handbook that expresses that there is job security for the employee, then the employee is no longer working on an “at will” status. Even verbal promises of job security can lead to a breach of contract if the employee terminates an individual for no apparent reason.

Schedules and Pay

Employees may file wrongful termination if an employer terminates an employee based on wage or schedule issues that are protected by law. The following are basic wage and time requirements of employers:

  • Employers must provide a 20-minute meal break if the workday consists of at least six hours unless employees are offered unlimited breaks and/or the ability to eat as they work.
  • Employers must pay for the breaks that last 20 minutes or less.
  • Employees must pay the required $7.25 minimum wage standard.
  • Employees who work more than 40 hours per week qualify for overtime.

Leave and pay are predetermined based on state and federal law. Falling outside the scope of the laws can lead to a wrongful termination if an employee challenges conditions that do not meet the above mentioned standards.


Employees have certain personal and civic responsibilities that allow for time off. If employees are carrying out one of the following then employers may not terminate them:

  • Jury duty
  • Military leave
  • Voting leave
  • Family and Medical leave

State Claims

Other West Virginia State laws help protect the wrongful termination of employees. Such laws include:

  • Worker’s compensation
  • Off-duty conduct associated with tobacco use

Neither of the above mentioned points can be used against an individual when determining his or her employment status.

Need Assistance?

While the state of West Virginia is an “at will” state, there are certain rights that are protected. If you or someone you know has been wrongfully terminated from their position, do not hesitate to reach out to knowledgeable resources that can help you. The litigation attorneys at Hendrickson and Law PLLC are located in Charleston, West Virginia. Contact them today and allow their trustworthy experience assist you with your wrongful termination claim today.