Losing or Leaving a Job FAQ

What are illegal reasons for firing me?

Employers do not have the right to discriminate against you in violation of state or federal fair employment laws -- and this applies to firing. Such laws protect against discrimination based on race, national origin, sex, religion, disability, and age. In addition, some states also protect against discrimination based on sexual orientation, marital status, gender identity, whether a person receives public funds, and/or other characteristics. Such state and federal laws also protect you from being fired in retaliation for making a complaint of discrimination or assisting in someone else's complaint of discrimination on any of these bases. For more information, see Your Rights Against Discrimination and Harassment.

Other state and federal laws also protect workers from being fired for a variety of reasons, including, but not limited to, the following:

  • forming a union or being involved in union activity
  • complaining about or reporting unsafe working conditions
  • reporting illegal activities in your workplace (also known as "whistleblowing")
  • asserting your legal rights or engaging in legal conduct, and
  • holding certain political or religious beliefs.

For more information on illegal reasons for firing, see Nolo's article Wrongful Termination: Was Your Firing Illegal? If you believe you may have been fired for an illegal reason, contact your state department of labor and/or fair employment agency for more information.

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