When an individual is fired from his or her job for an illegal reason, the dismissal may be classified as a wrongful termination. Firing an employee for any reason other than misconduct or poor performance on the employee’s part is illegal. Examples of wrongful termination are discriminatory termination, which targets employees based on their status as part of protected classes, termination that violates one or more terms of the employee’s contract, and termination that violates public policy.
What is Public Policy?
Essentially, public policy is the common sense that maintains social norms and good will within society. It is an unwritten set of rules that citizens can generally agree are beneficial to the community. In Washington, the Washington Institute for Public Policy is tasked with researching public policy trends and working with state government officials to ensure that this research produces quality, applicable results that can then be taken into consideration when developing new bills.
In the context of a wrongful termination, public policy refers to the workplace behaviors that maintain state and federal laws along with employees’ rights. The following are examples of wrongful termination for violating public policy:
- Firing an employee for exercising his or her right to vote;
- Firing an employee for refusing to commit or engage in illegal activities; and
- Firing an employee for reporting any illegal activities that he or she observed while he or she was employed with the company.
Because public policy does not have a specific legal definition, the behaviors and social mores that constitute public policy can vary from region to region. Over time, public policy can evolve as society changes as well. Generally, though, it is a reflection of its community’s values, such as compliance with the law.
Filing a Wrongful Termination Lawsuit
If you’ve lost your job for any reason other than your own misconduct or poor performance, you could have grounds for a wrongful termination lawsuit. Once you’ve discussed your case with a knowledgeable employment attorney who can help you decide on your best course of action, contact the Washington State Department of Labor and Industries. Title 49 RCW covers all labor laws in Washington.
If you decide that filing a lawsuit is right for your case, be sure to do so within three years following your termination. This is the statute of limitations for a wrongful termination based on a violation of public policy. Once these three years have passed, you may no longer file your lawsuit.
Employment Attorneys Can Help
Don’t allow your career to be compromised with a wrongful termination. If you’ve lost your job and you feel your dismissal was based on a violation of public policy, call HKM Employment Attorneys LLP at 206-838-2504 to discuss your case with one of our team’s expert employment attorneys. We’re here to advocate for you and help you achieve a productive outcome for your case. If you’re ready to take legal action following your wrongful termination, give us a call today.