Being fired from a job can be a world-shattering experience, but that experience can be much worse if the termination was unjust or unlawful. Louisiana is an “at-will” employment state, which means that generally employers can terminate any of their employees at any time and for any reason without advance warning. However, there are laws that limit the termination of an employee under certain circumstances. Here are a few of the exceptions:
Employees Under Contract:
If there is an employment contract in place, a Louisiana employer is not allowed to fire an employee for just any reason. Employee agreements have certain stipulations which outline when and how an employee can be fired, and/or when the employer/employee relationship will end. If an employer fires its employee for any reason outside of what is allowed within the provisions of the contract, then the employer has both breached its contract with, and wrongfully terminated its employee. Similarly, a termination that violates a union collective bargaining agreement also constitutes wrongful termination.
Employers are prohibited from firing any employee because of their sex, religion, age, nationality, color, citizenship, age, pregnancy, sexual orientation, handicap, or disability. If a person is terminated for any discriminatory reason, they can file a complaint with the Louisiana Commission on Human Rights and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). The guidelines on how to file an EEOC claim can be found here.
Just as it is illegal for an employer to fire an employee for discriminatory reasons, it is also illegal for an employer to let go of an employee as a way to get back at them for asserting their rights. An employee cannot be fired for making an HR complaint regarding discrimination, safety, or environmental concerns within the company, or participating in an investigation of such complaints. An employer that is found to have terminated its an employee in order to retaliate may be subject to additional penalties.
Good Faith/Public Policy:
In the interest of the public, Louisiana laws prohibit employers from firing an employee who exercises his or her right to take time off from work for personal and civic obligations such as jury duty. Louisiana also expects its employers to operate in good faith and fair dealing with their employees. Firing an employee right before they are due a large commission or payment from a sale or letting go of an older employee to avoid paying retirement benefits are examples of bad faith terminations that could result in penalties for an employer.
In Louisiana, a person generally has one year from the date that they were fired to bring a claim for wrongful termination. However, if that wrongful termination was because of a breach of contract, then the time frame is 10 years from the date of termination. If an employer is found to have wrongfully terminated its employee, the employee is entitled to be placed in the same financial position they would have been in if not for the employer's conduct, in addition to other possible damages.
If you feel as though you have been wrongfully terminated by an employer, it is important to speak with an attorney to go over the facts, review any possible evidence, and to determine what legal remedies you may have. Please give us a call for a free consultation to discuss your rights, and possible claim.
This is provided for informational purposes only and not for the purpose of providing legal advice.