Most employment is labeled as "at-will" in the state of Washington. This means that an employer or employee is free to end the work relationship at any point and leave the employment organization. The only exception to this are reasons that the law has particularly outlined as impermissible to use as a basis for employee termination.
Employment that does not fall into the category of "at will" is not subject to the same restrictions. Thus, it is critical that you identify what type of employment arrangement you are involved in. In general, employment that is subject to a set period employment contract is not considered to be "at will", and termination may only happen in accordance with procedures outlined in the contract.
What are the Illegal Grounds for Terminating At Will Employment in Washington?
In the state of Washington, employee discrimination is the most common illegal ground for termination in an at-will employment. Employers are barred from terminating their employees on the basis of race, gender, religion, or nationality. A Bellingham employer also is prohibited from terminating at-will employees as a form of retaliation if the worker has sought an investigation into discrimination or has filed a legal claim for discrimination against the employer.
Moreover, the Family and Medical Leave act makes it illegal for employers to terminate any of their employees who have taken leave based upon family or medical needs. Finally, employers cannot terminate employees who are simply exercising a legal right, performing an obligation under law, or refusing to do an illegal act.
Do I Need a Washington Attorney for My Wrongful Termination Case?
A local Bellingham, Washington attorney can better inform you about whether a wrongful termination has occurred, and will also help in collecting the appropriate documents for your case. There may also be unique procedures that an attorney can shepherd you through.