wrongful termination

Kentucky is an “employee at will” doctrine state, but it is still possible to face wrongful termination. While an employer generally has the right to fire an employee at any time and for “any reason,” there are reasons that are impermissible under state and federal law. Employees still have limited protections against their employers, such as against certain kinds of discrimination.

If you believe you were wrongfully terminated, you may have legal recourse. The experienced employment law attorneys at Abney Law are dedicated to protecting and expanding workers’ rights in Kentucky. Let us consider your unique situation to see how we can help.

What Is At-Will Employment?

To understand when a firing may constitute wrongful termination, you must first understand the concept of at-will employment. Kentucky is an employee at will state, meaning an employer can terminate you for any reason at any time, subject to a few exceptions. 

The Kentucky Supreme Court even held that “an employer can fire an employee for cause, without cause, or even for cause that may seem morally indefensible.” Employers have broad, but not unlimited, power to fire employees in the state.

Kentucky Wrongful Termination in Violation of Public Policy

You can be wrongfully terminated in Kentucky, despite its at-will employment status. The Kentucky Supreme Court created the tort of wrongful discharge in violation of public policy in 1983. This occurs if the firing:

  • Is prohibited by explicit legislative statements
  • Is due to an employee’s refusal to violate a law in the course of employment
  • Is due to an employee’s exercise of a right conferred by a well-established legislative enactment

This category may apply to many different situations. After you are terminated, you have the right to seek legal counsel and determine if you may be eligible under this doctrine.

Other Legal Protections Against Wrongful Termination

Despite at-will employment laws, you may not be fired in violation of other existing legal protections. These can occur both at the federal and state level. Your firing may be considered wrongful termination in the following situations:

  • Discriminatory Reasons: You may not be fired because of discrimination based on race, sex, color, disability, religion, gender identity, sexual preference, and several other immutable traits.
  • Retaliation: An employer cannot retaliate against you for actions such as opposing or reporting unlawful discrimination. For example, it is illegal to fire you for reporting a supervisor that discriminated against you or sexually harassed you.
  • Family Medical Leave Act: You cannot be fired for properly pursuing your rights under the Family Medical Leave Act and taking the time off to which you are entitled.
  • OSHA Complaints: You may not be fired simply because you filed a complaint with OSHA regarding a workplace safety issue.
  • Workers’ Compensation: Your employer cannot fire you for pursuing a workers’ compensation claim after a work injury.
  • Whistleblowers: A whistleblower is a person that reports illegal or wrongful conduct by their employer. It is illegal to retaliate against whistleblowers for doing so, including terminating their employment.
  • Breach of Contract: An employer may not violate an employment contract by terminating you. For example, an employment contract may change the at-will default employment status to only for-cause termination.
  • Wage and Hour Laws: Employers may not terminate employees who properly utilize Kentucky’s wage and hour laws when taking time off work. For example, Kentucky employers must provide reasonable unpaid leave for employees to vote and for jury duty. 

There are several other scenarios in which your discharge might be wrongful. Even if you are unsure, a qualified Kentucky wrongful termination attorney can review your case and determine if you are eligible to file a wrongful termination lawsuit.

Seek Compensation With a Dedicated Wrongful Termination Attorney in Kentucky

If you were wrongfully terminated in Kentucky, you could be entitled to significant monetary compensation or reinstatement of your position. Our employment law attorneys are highly experienced going to bat for employees. We know how to fight back against large companies and are passionate about employee rights.Let the experienced employment law attorneys at Abney Law give you the representation you deserve. Contact us today for a consultation of your case.