How to Handle Wrongful Termination Claims in a Remote Workforce

In general, the law provides the same protections to remote workers as with in-office workers when it comes to wages, overtime, paid leave, workplace discrimination, and wrongful termination. If you work remotely in a different state than your employer and have been terminated from your job illegally, you have the right to take legal action, though which state’s laws apply to your claim will depend on several factors. See below for information on how to determine which state jurisdiction applies to your case.    

Being wrongfully terminated from your job can be devastating financially for you and your family. At The Noble Law, our attorneys take pride in standing up for the rights of victims of workplace discrimination. Call us today to schedule a completely confidential consultation and learn more about your rights.

What Qualifies as Wrongful Termination?

In at-will states such as North Carolina and South Carolina, employers can typically terminate both in-person AND remote employees for any reason at all. Legally, an “at will” employment means that the employer or employee can terminate the employment relationship for any reason whatsoever, as long as that reason is not illegal.  If you are fired for an illegal reason, however – whether your employer admits it or not – you have the right to sue under federal and state law.

No employer is permitted to terminate an employee at any time for any of the following reasons:

  • Discrimination due to your age, race, religion, gender, sexual orientation, or ethnicity.
  • Disability, whereby you are terminated for seeking reasonable accommodations to perform your job duties with a disability, or you seek leave to treat a medical condition.
  • Breach of contract. Many employment contracts discuss the reasons and processes by which you may be terminated. Violating these terms would constitute wrongful termination.
  • Retaliation, which typically takes the form of the employee reporting the employer or a coworker for a violation and then being terminated as a result.
  • Statutory violations. In every state, there are certain processes which must be followed and certain justifications which are prohibited for terminating an employee. Depending on your employer and the position you hold, you may be entitled to additional protections before you can be terminated from your job, and any employer that fails to do so may have wrongfully terminated you.

It should be noted that most employers are savvy enough to avoid making it overly obvious that you have been wrongfully terminated. Instead, they may cite a reason that may be legitimate in general for the purposes of firing an employee, but is not true in your case.

For example, your employer may claim that you were habitually late for work and missed meetings, and that is why you were terminated. The right attorney can help you prove that these claims are false and that you were actually wrongfully terminated.

Which State Law Applies to Remote Workers?

While no state permits wrongful termination as described above, there are differences from state to state in terms of the rights and protections granted to employees and employers with regard to termination.

If an employee lives in State A and works remotely for an employer that is based in State B, determining which state’s laws apply to the termination can be highly complex.

What Is the “Choice of Law Principle?”

The “choice of law principle” is often required in these cases where the court needs to determine which state’s laws to apply. This is typically a facts-sensitive analysis which considers a number of different factors specific to your case in order to decide which state’s employment laws should apply.

While many different factors will be considered, one that will carry a significant amount of weight is your reason for working remotely. If you were working remotely in another state solely due to convenience, then the court likely would not find that your employer “purposely availed” itself of the laws in your state such that those laws should govern your employment.

On the other hand, if your employer intentionally recruited you with the purpose of conducting or developing business in your state, then it would be more likely that your employer would be subject to the employment laws of your home state.

In other words, there is no guarantee that you will only be able to file a wrongful termination lawsuit in the state in which your employer is based, as the state in which you live and work may be selected by the court instead.

What Is My Company’s Policy?

In order to determine your company’s policy for which state law will apply in any employment dispute, you should check your employment contract. Many contracts will directly specify which state’s laws will apply in a dispute.

If your contract does contain a provision about this issue, then that will likely hold sway. If it does not, then the “choice of law principle” may be applied to your case.

Know Your Rights As a Remote Worker

At The Noble Law, we fully understand the emotional and financial challenges you and your family may be experiencing due to a wrongful termination. Having the right North Carolina wrongful termination attorney on your side can help you level the playing field when it comes to taking on your employer and filing a grievance. Our firm works relentlessly on behalf of our clients to deliver favorable outcomes with integrity and empathy.

Reach out today to schedule a 100-percent confidential case review. We will evaluate your claim, answer your questions, and work together to decide on the best next steps to take.

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