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Legitimate Grounds Under Which an Employee Can Challenge Wrongful Termination


Termination can be frustrating especially if the decision for termination was arrived at through illegitimate means. In such circumstances, a terminated employee can challenge the decision. However, if the decision was made based on legitimate reasons, then such an employee may lack recourse. This paper discusses legitimate grounds under which an employee can challenge wrongful termination and circumstances for which a terminated worker may have no alternative or recourse.


Wrongful termination is an unlawful act that involves firing an employee for illegitimate reason(s). The condition can be frustrating and tiresome, but it can be corrected- unless it’s confirmed that the termination was actually legitimate. In this paper, I will explore the grounds under which an employee can challenge an illegitimate termination and circumstances for which a terminated worker may have no alternative or recourse.

Legitimate Grounds Under Which an Employee Can Challenge Wrongful Termination

Whistleblowing and Retaliation

All employees are safeguarded from termination for raising concerns about forms of illegal behaviors within the organization. For instance, no employer is allowed to fire a worker for asserting their rights as stipulated in the Family and Medical Leave Act. The same case applies to circumstances where an employee files a wage claim for an unpaid overtime or complains about unhealthy working environment to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (Krotoszynski Jr, 2018). Firing an employee under such circumstances can amount to illegitimate termination and the terminated employee can challenge the dismissal.

Employment Contract

An employee can challenge the termination if it’s discovered that the reasons for such act are not explicitly or implicitly indicated in the employment contract. For instance, termination can be said to be wrongful if the agreement spells out the process which should be observed before firing you and it’s discovered that the employer disregarded the procedure. 


Under federal regulations, employers are not allowed to fire workers because of their color, race, religion, age, national origin, gender, genetic information, or disability (Walsh, 2015). All states have their own rules prohibiting discrimination. Some have incorporated more protected groups. For example, in California, no employee can be fired because of their sexual orientation. In Illinois, employers are prohibited from discriminating employees on the basis of their credit records. An employee can challenge his or her termination if it’s found that discrimination played a role in the dismissal.

Situations Under Which a Terminated Employee May Have No Recourse

Lack of Qualifications

A terminated employee may lack alternative if he or she lacks necessary qualifications for a specific task, especially if it’s discovered that the employee exaggerated the credentials on the resume.

Fraud, Theft, or Other Acts of Crime

Stealing from the office or fudging financial records may not only lead to termination, but also, criminal charges (Walsh, 2015). An employee terminated based on these grounds may have no recourse. He or she may be required to repay the assets stolen in case the employer goes ahead and makes a claim in the court of law.


Termination can be termed as legitimate or illegitimate based on the circumstances surrounding it. Termination is said to be wrongful if it’s found out that the employee was fired because he or she raised concerns regarding the working environment or the decision was based on discrimination. On the other hand, termination based on lack of qualifications and fraud may be termed as legitimate. In such cases, an employee may have no recourse.


Krotoszynski Jr, R. J. (2018). Whistleblowing Speech and the First Amendment. Indiana Law Journal93(2), 1.

Walsh, D. (2015). Employment Law for Human Resource Practice (5th ed., p.702- 714). Boston, MA: Cengage Learning.

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