What Determines A Wrongful Termination In Arizona

Arizona is an “at-will” employment state, which means that either an employee or employer can terminate the employment relationship at any time. At-will employment laws are designed to protect employees and employers, by giving them both maximum flexibility to end the employment relationship–provided that employers cannot end the employment relationship for reasons that are specifically against the law.  If an employer violates these employment-related laws, it’s known as wrongful termination. Since these types of situations can be complicated and you may have some legal options for recourse, consulting with an experienced Chandler business lawyer is always a good idea if you believe you’ve been fired inappropriately.

Can My Employer Fire Me If I'm Facing Criminal Charges?

Are Criminal Charges Grounds For Termination of Employment?

In most cases, a criminal charge alone does not mandate that an employer fire you–but usually the employer will be able to fire you if they desire to do so and there is no other limitation on their ability to do so.  Keep in mind that “at-will employment” means that either party can end the relationship at will.  And if your employer decides that it wants to let you go because you’ve gotten tangled up in a legal matter, in many cases the employer will not be breaking any law by doing so.  This is particularly true if the criminal charge involves your work for your employer, or calls into question whether you are fit for your position or meet the standards laid out in your employment contract.

If you are facing criminal charges, it’s imperative to work with a trusted Carefree criminal defense attorney to discuss every aspect of your case, including how it may affect your employment.

What Constitutes Wrongful Termination In Arizona?

Arizona law outlines what constitutes wrongful termination. This includes:

  • Discrimination: If your employment is terminated because you are part of a protected class of people as defined by federal employment laws, it is considered discrimination and therefore wrongful termination. This includes discrimination due to race, class, age, sex, pregnancy status, religious beliefs, disability, and more.
  • Retaliation: Your employer cannot retaliate against you by terminating your employment if you reported your employer for workplace violations or other misconduct.
  • Breach of good faith and fair dealing: Arizona recognizes wrongful termination when your employer terminates you for a fabricated or untrue reason, or when an employer terminates you specifically to deprive you of a contractual right (such as firing you right before a large retirement payment would otherwise vest).
  • Family or medical leave: If you take medical leave that is covered by the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), you are entitled to unpaid leave and a protected job until you return. It’s wrongful termination to be fired while you are taking FMLA leave.

If you believe you have been wrongfully terminated by your employer due to criminal charges, consult with an experienced Phoenix business attorney.

What Are The Exceptions To At-Will Employment?

Arizona state laws and federal laws prevent your employer from terminating you for specific reasons, such as discrimination, retaliation for a report to OSHA, and your medical conditions. If your employer wants to terminate you, it must base that decision on other legal factors, such as your job performance.

A wrongful termination lawsuit is more likely to be successful if you can prove that your employer violated a specific labor law or provision; simply arguing that it was wrongful termination is unlikely to be successful in court.

What If I am Falsely Accused By My Employer?

Employees are protected against termination for fabricated reasons by Arizona labor laws and federal laws. You may also be able to file a defamation lawsuit against your employer if the false accusations damaged your reputation or affected your employment status.

What Other Factors Control Whether I Can Be Fired For Criminal Charges?

If you as an employee violate your employment contract, employee manual, or employee handbook, your employer may also be able to legally terminate your employment. The situation may be considered a breach of contract. Some employers may choose to include a clause regarding criminal charges or alleged criminal activities in their employment contract or employee handbook. In that situation, your employer may be able to legally terminate your employment for breach of contract, based on your alleged criminal activity.  Your employer does have a responsibility to deal with you in good faith on this issue (and all other issues).

If you are facing any criminal charges, your Scottsdale employment attorney can help you understand how this may affect your job and whether your employer has legal grounds to terminate your employment.

This article is courtesy of Denton Peterson Dunn, a leading Arizona business attorney firm specializing in multiple areas of business law, including breach of contract, franchise law, and employment law. The attorneys at Denton Peterson Dunn are reliable and respected and have developed a reputation of success and professionalism.


Published On: June 23rd, 2022Categories: Disorderly Conduct

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