We are often contacted by people who have been fired from their job and who want to know if they have a potential lawsuit against their employer for wrongful termination. It is important to remember that Nebraska is an at-will employment state. That means that if your private employer fires you, and you are not part of a union and do not otherwise have a written contract, your employer may generally fire you for any reason, as long as that reason is not illegal or in violation of certain public policies.
In other words, your employer can be the world’s biggest jerk, have had no reason for firing you, and your firing can be completely “unfair,” but in most cases there is no legal remedy for your firing. The most common exception for this general rule is when your employer has violated your civil rights. Therefore, when you’ve been let go by your employer, you may want to ask yourself these questions before contacting a lawyer about wrongful termination:
- Is a union involved, or did you have an employment contract with your employer?
- Was your firing on account of your race, color, religion, national origin, sex, age, physical or mental disability (or perceived disability), marital status, genetics, service in the uniformed services, or any other classification protected by law?
- Was your firing in relation to having recently been injured at work or making a workers compensation claim?
- Have you complained about not being paid overtime, minimum wage, or similar concerns?
- Have you reported your employer to any authorities because of illegal conduct or unsafe working conditions?
Jeanelle R. Lust