Day in day out, issues crop up on employers’ terminating the employment of workers at any time and any day. This issue has really become a talk of the town in recent times. Whilst evidence and studies prove that this happens most at times because workers are partially or absolutely ignorant about their right at the workplace, many employers also fail to recognize or do not know the limit of their authority at the workplace.
Both the employer and the employee should know that if their rights are seen as protecting an individual’s interests from the actions of others, responsibilities can be seen as establishing limits on one’s actions. Most employees who are ignorant of this, see themselves fired every now and then from work. Employers who also ignore them find themselves from one courtroom to another, wasting valuable resources.
The time has now come for both the employer and the employee to know the grounds on which the termination of employment is considered fair and unfair. It was only some years past that workers who enter “employment at will” (EAW) see themselves fired now and then. However, due to the recent modifications to even the employment at will doctrine, no employer can just terminate the employment of a worker and go scot free. The following are the modifications to the employment at will doctrine.
Public policy exceptions: This exception states that no employees’ employment should be terminated if its action which leads to the termination is to protect public policy. This was because the courts have found out that the dismissal of an at-will employee, while not a violation of any explicit statute, nonetheless undermines the states’ ability to pursue public policies and for that reason will not be accepted.
Judicial exceptions: This is where the termination will not be accepted in cases where the courts have found explicit contracts on the basis of representations that were made to employees either in their employees’ handbook or through a statement made during the hiring process (ie express and implied contracts).
The implied covenant of good faith exceptions: This also highlights that the termination of an employee’s employment will not be accepted few days before they were due to receive annual bonuses for annual sales performance.
In addition, all employers should know that any employer who terminates the employment of an employee based on the following grounds have violated the laws of the land and should, therefore, guard against them except otherwise stipulated in the contract note.
A worker’s employment is terminated unfairly if the termination is due to his joining or intention to join or ceasing to join or taking part in the activities of a trade union. It is also unfair if the termination is on the grounds of a worker seeking office as or is acting or has acted as a workers’ representative. If the ground is that the employee has filed a complaint or participated in proceedings against the employer for alleged violations. Also, if the termination is based on pregnancy, the worker’s disability, that the worker has taken part in a legal strike or the level of qualification required now is different from the one he/she has when employed. To sum up, any termination on the grounds of the worker’s gender, race, color, ethnic background, origin, religion, and creed, social, political or economic status is also unfair.
Any worker, who claims that his / her employment has been unfairly terminated by the worker’s employer, may present a complaint to the National Labor Commission for redress. Such an employee’s employment when found to be unexpectedly terminated, the employee would either be reinstated or re-employed.
Despite the above, there are grounds on which an employer can fairly terminate the employment of an employee. Termination is fair on the grounds that the worker is incompetent in the field in which he/she has been employed or because of proven misconduct. Death or incapacitation can also be a fair ground for terminating the employment of an employee. Redundancy is also a fairground for terminating the employment of an employee just that the employer has to pay a redundancy pay to the employee. Termination is also fair if it is due to legal restrictions imposed on the worker prohibiting him/her from performing the work.
In conclusion, ignorance is no excuse for the law. As such, both the employer and the employee should know their rights and limitations in order to prevent the long arms of the law from catching them.
By: Bernard Amexo
Featured Image: Aghaeian Law