Unjust dismissal, also known as wrongful termination, refers to a situation where an individual is fired in a manner that runs contrary to the local law or the established policies of the company. The circumstances required to constitute an unjust dismissal vary between jurisdictions, since each locality can have their own statutes regarding employees rights. Some common reasons cited for wrongful termination include discrimination, the refusal of an employee to commit a crime, or an instance of employer retaliation. The procedure for dealing with an unjust dismissal can also vary between jurisdictions, though there is typically a legal procedure that can lead to reinstatement or monetary compensation.
In many jurisdictions, companies are required to have some sort of employment contract. Other jurisdictions have an implied contract that exists regardless of whether an employer and employee agreed upon one. These contracts will typically stipulate a number of items, though one important factor they can cover is the terms for dismissal. If a company does not not follow these terms, an unjust dismissal case may be brought.
Discrimination is one reason that is often cited as a cause for unjust dismissal. Many jurisdictions do not allow discrimination based on factors such as race, age, sex, or religion. If an employee suspects he has been fired for any of these reasons, he may bring charges of a wrongful termination. Another related subject is retaliation, which is when a company fires someone for making accusations of discrimination or other unlawful behaviors. It is typically illegal to fire someone out of retaliation, so an employee in this situation will often seek compensation for unjust dismissal.
Charges of a wrongful termination will often result in some form of legal proceedings. There may be a court action or some form of arbitration, depending on the local statutes. The evidence for both sides will typically be heard, at which time the termination can be declared just or unjust. If the court, arbitrator, or tribunal determines that the dismissal was wrongful, the employer may be ordered to reinstate the employee or compensate him for his termination.
A court may look at a number of different factors when establishing the proper compensation in the case of an unjust dismissal. The employee is often entitled to back or future pay, commissions, or unpaid sick and vacation days. Lost health care and other benefits, such as retirement plans, may be considered as well.