So what rights do you have as an “at-will” employee, if your boss can terminate you arbitrarily for no reason at all? Even at-will employees are protected by certain exceptions to the “at-will” rule, and also by specific State and Federal employment statutes.
The primary exception to the “at-will” rule under State law is the legal concept of “wrongful termination.” It is important to understand that “wrongful termination” does not equal “unfair termination.” It is a legal claim with a very specific set of elements that must be proved: You have to show that you were (a) terminated (b) in bad faith, for (c) performing an act that public policy would encourage, or refusing to perform an act that public policy would condemn. In other words, you have to show that you took a stand on something important, like safety, health, or illegal conduct, and that your employer fired you because of it.
Statutory exceptions to the “at-will” employment rule under New Hampshire law include the Whistleblower’s Protection Act (which works similarly to the concept of “wrongful termination,” but requires you to report unlawful conduct by your employer to have a claim), and N.H. Human Rights Act, which prohibits discrimination against certain protected categories of employees (i.e., gender, age, race, religion, sexual orientation, and disability).
Under Federal law, employees may not be terminated due to unlawful discrimination on the basis of race, gender, age, disability, or exercise of their rights under the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA).
If you believe you are the victim of wrongful termination, you should consult an experienced employment attorney such as one of the attorneys at Douglas, Leonard & Garvey, P.C. Call us at (603) 288-1403 or fill out our online contact form.