Exceptions to at-will employment
Mississippi follows the common law rule that employment contracts drafted with indefinite terms regarding duration may be terminated at the will of either party. Butler v. Smith, 35 Miss. 457, 464 (1858). This is commonly referred to as “at-will” employment, and is the norm in States whose legislature does not tend to make many employment or labor laws.
But there are also federal laws. You may have heard of the terms “Lincoln Law,” or “qui tam,” or “whistle-blower.” Or other issues like gender discrimination; discussed here, and hourly compensation discussed here. Click here if you have general questions about Mississippi employment law. If you feel you have been wrongfully terminated because you were trying to do the right thing, consider the following…
Have you been fired for reporting illegal activity?
If you believe your employer fired you for reporting illegal conduct, or for trying to NOT engage in that illegal conduct, Mississippi makes its own exception to the common law of “at-will” employment.
Although an employee in Mississippi can be fired for “good reason, bad reason, or no reason at all,” the refusal to participate in illegal activity, or reporting illegal activity, and being terminated for those reasons, is actionable. See McArn v. Allied Bruce-Terminix Co., Inc., 626 So.2d 603, 606 (Miss., 1993).
What exactly constitutes illegal activity?
Just because you feel someone did you wrong, or was behaving inappropriately, does not necessarily mean they are violating any laws. Therefore, you should consult with an attorney who is licensed to practice law in the state you are working or dwell in. The law constantly evolves. The McArn analysis only provides a cause of action if certain fact-sensitive qualifications are met. For example, if you have been even slightly involved in the illegal activity, there may be a chance you have an unsuccessful case against your employer. Don’t second-guess, call an attorney. Call Panter Law Firm, PLLC at (601) 607-3156.
Panter Law Firm, PLLC, 7736 Old Canton Road, Suite B, Madison, MS 39110