Wrongful Termination in WV as an At-Will Employee

In West Virginia (WV), the law 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 the existence of such laws, it may seem impossible for employees to file a claim against their employers for wrongful termination in WV. However, there are certain situations that fall into the category of wrongful dismissal and can be pursued in the courts. The following are potential reasons for wrongful termination in WV:

  • Discrimination
  • Breach of contract
  • Schedule and pay
  • Leave
  • State law claims

Grounds for Wrongful Termination in WV: Discrimination

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

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

Breach of Contract as a Ground for Wrongful Dismissal in WV

In WV, contracts are deemed to be 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 may no longer be working in an “at will” status. Even oral promises of job security may lead to a breach of contract in the event that an employer terminates an employee for no apparent reason.

Schedules and Pay as Grounds for Wrongful Dismissal in WV

An employee may file a lawsuit for wrongful termination in WV if an employer terminates employment based on wage or schedule issues that are protected by law. The following are basic wage and time requirements WV employers must meet:

  • 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.
  • For covered employees, employers must pay for breaks that last 20 minutes or less.
  • Employers must pay the legal minimum wage.
  • Certain employees who work more than 40 hours per week qualify for overtime.

In the case of leave and pay, both are predetermined based on state and federal law. Violating these laws may lead to a wrongful termination, if an employee challenges conditions that do not meet the above-mentioned standards and is fired as a result.

Grounds for Wrongful Termination in WV: Leave

Employees have certain personal and civic responsibilities that allow for time off from work. If employees are carrying out one of the following activities and are dismissed as a result, they may have a valid claim for wrongful termination in WV:

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

Grounds for Wrongful Termination in WV: State Claims

A number of state laws help to protect the wrongful dismissal of employees in WV. Such laws include the following:

  • Off-duty conduct associated with tobacco use
  • Whistleblower laws, such as mining safety laws, which prohibit employers from taking adverse employment actions due to protected conduct
  • Worker’s compensation anti-retaliation laws, which prohibits retaliating against employees who file workers’ compensation claims in good faith

What Steps Should You Take?

Wrongful termination in WV is complicated by the “at-will” doctrine, but there are certain rights that are protected by law. If you or someone you know has been wrongfully dismissed, do not hesitate to reach out to knowledgeable resources that can help. The employment law attorneys at Hendrickson & Long, PLLC are located in Charleston but serve people throughout the state of WV. Contact them today and allow their trustworthy experience to assist you with your wrongful dismissal claim today: 304-346-5500.