You've been fired! You want your boss...now your ex boss... to pay! Can you sue? Do you have a right to recover, even in an "at will" employment state?
The answer depends on the reasons and circumstances for which you were fired. While the video below discusses twelve (12) grounds, this article will explain some subcategories of discrimination for which you can file a civil action.
A civil action may be brought in federal district court for discrimination, regardless of whether or not you are a federal employee or live in an at-will state. This is because federal laws prohibit discrimination on the basis of age, race, sex, gender, religion, or disability.
Sex or Gender
One example of discrimination with multiple subcategories is sex-based discrimination. This can include the more obvious sexual harassment. But it commonly includes disparate treatment based on someone's sex i.e. whether they are male or female. It can also include gender stereotyping, such as terminating someone because of their sexual preference. Another form of sex-based discrimination includes discrimination based on pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions.
Disability has many subcategories, such as failure to reasonably accommodate a disability, disparate treatment, or discrimination against a person based on his/her association with a disabled person, such as having caregiving responsibilities for those with special needs.
The Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) prohibits an employer from terminating you based on your age. You have to be at least 40 years old to qualify.
Older employees receive additional protections pursuant to the Older Workers Benefit Protection Act. This includes mandatory language in severance or settlement agreements - such as time to review and revoke the agreement - in the event an older worker is terminated and the employer attempts to get the employee to waive their litigation rights. The older worker who is laid off is also entitled to certain disclosures about other employees who were also laid off. This, and other protections, ensure that older workers are not disparately impacted.