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YOU’RE FIRED! Wrongful Discharge in West Virginia

We all have had jobs that, for one reason or another, just didn’t work out.  Sometimes, employees decide a job is not right for them and quit.  Other times, employees are fired for no good reason or even forced out of the workplace by the employer.

Barney Law PLLC gets calls from many folks who were fired and want to know whether they have a case against their employer.  If you have been fired from your job or forced to quit your job, you should promptly contact an employment lawyer to analyze the unique facts of your dismissal.  Nevertheless, some basic principles apply.

West Virginia adheres to the at-will employment doctrine.  Where there is no contract of employment, an employee can quit at his or her will and can be fired at the will of his or her employer.  An employee may be fired for any reason, for no reason, or for the wrong reason, so long as the employee is not fired for a reason that violates the substantial public policy of West Virginia.

The substantial public policy of West Virginia is a broad concept.  When determining whether an employee was illegally fired for a reason that violates substantial public policy, an employment lawyer will look to “established precepts in our constitution, legislative enactments, legislatively approved regulations, and judicial opinions.”  Birthisel v. Tri-Cities Health Servs. Corp., 188 W. Va. 371, 377, 424 S.E.2d 606, 612 (1992).  Reasons that an employer may not fire an employee include, but are not limited to:

  • Reporting an unsafe working condition;
  • Reporting environmental pollution;
  • Filing a workers’ compensation claim;
  • Giving truthful testimony in a legal case;
  • Refusing to violate safety laws; and
  • Defending oneself against a robber in the workplace.

Employers cannot illegally discriminate or fire an employee because of the employee’s race, religion, color, national origin, ancestry, sex, age, blindness, or disability.  Employees are protected under both state and federal laws including, but not limited to: the West Virginia Human Rights Act; the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended; the Family Medical Leave Act (“FMLA”); the Americans With Disabilities Act (“ADA”); the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (“ADEA”); the Equal Pay Act; the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act of 2008 (GINA); and the Pregnancy Discrimination Act (“PDA”).

If you are a public employee, you may have additional rights beyond those provided to private employees.  A whole body of administrative rules and regulations govern many public employees.  Barney Law PLLC has experience representing public employees who have been wrongfully discharged from their employment.

If you have questions about workplace rights and/or want to know whether you were illegally fired, call Barney Law PLLC today at 304-932-8775.  The initial consultation is always free and you owe us nothing unless we make a recovery for you.