Termination Agreements - Maryland Employement Laws
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Termination of Employement
You have just been called into a meeting with your supervisor or HR person and informed that your job position has been eliminated or they just tell you that you have been terminated and no reason is given.
What are your rights and what should you do?
In most states, unless you are under written contract, your employment is called “at will”. Under employment at will, employees have no "property rights" to their job; employers are free to dismiss employees "at will," without any reason or cause.
Many companies will then proceed to an exit interview. This is where they inform you of certain rights and warn you about giving out information about their company.
You maybe asked to sign an agreement that could be disastrous to you and because you are still in a state of shock sign without understanding everything contained in the document.
For example, in a recent case the employer terminated employee and offered him a severance package containing a few months wages. At first glance it sounded good and allowed him time to find a new job without having to sell the house and car. However, buried in the small print is a non-compete which tells him he can not do what he has always done for a living for two years, sell. What this means is that they have eliminated him as a potential competitor because he gave up the right to sell for 2 years for a couple of months severance pay.
Fortunately, he had enough wit about him not to sign and see a lawyer. The lawyer helped him negotiate a severance package without getting into a hole.
Remember, the only reason an employer wants you to sign an agreement is to benefit them. It is perfectly alright to sign an agreement provided that it is fair on both sides.
There are reasons that an employer may not terminate you.
- No discharge for discriminatory reason (for example, age, sex, race, disability).
- No discharge just because employees exercise their rights under a Worker's Compensation Act, , or other state, federal or local law which establishes specific rights or benefits to an employee.
- Public Policy (i.e., being a witness at a trial).
- Collective bargaining agreements or specified contracts of employment.
Employers today are often finding themselves in the defendant's seat refuting an 'unjust dismissal' claim brought by a disgruntled employee. While 'unjust dismissal' cases are defined state-by-state, here are some issues for every employer to consider:
Unjust dismissal claims are based on the concept that employees do have some employment - security rights.
Former employees can argue that an implied contract exists, even when there is no written contract, which protects employees against dismissal as long as they are doing acceptable work.
Employees may argue that where there are written contracts, parties must practice good faith and fair dealing, not look for loopholes or hidden meanings to escape obligations (such as finding an excuse to dismiss in order to avoid paying a bonus).
To defend such cases, Employers must show sufficient cause (a defensible reason) for dismissing employees.
When courts rule that there was "unjust dismissal," employees may receive lost wages and benefits as well as possible damages awarded for:
Emotional distress--emotional stress and humiliation caused by a discharge.
Abusive discharge--employee is insulted or verbally abused as well as dismissed.
Outrageous conduct--the intentional infliction of emotional distress, as in deliberately harassing an employee to force resignation or being extremely abusive or cruel in the course of dismissal.
Negligent evaluation--when company conducts performance reviews but fails to alert employee that employment is in jeopardy from poor performance.
Defamation--harming a person's reputation by libel or slander.
Punitive damages--awards used to punish a defendant and to prevent repetition of the offense by the defendant or others.
If you think you have been terminated wrongly, consult with a lawyer. Know your rights.
FOR FREE CONSULTATION CALL 301 738-5700
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YOU SHOULD REMEMBER THE INFORMATION THAT YOU READ HERE IS GENERAL IN NATURE AND NOT MEANT TO BE A SUBSTITUTE FOR SPECIFIC LEGAL ADVICE FROM AN ATTORNEY.
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