Can You Get Wrongful Termination in a Layoff?

Can you get wrongfully terminated in a layoff? Some types of wrongful termination are illegal in Virginia, but they are narrowly defined. So, it only applies in certain circumstances. Generally, private sector employees are considered to be employed “at will” and can be discharged for any reason, or no reason at all unless the employee’s contract provides otherwise, or the termination itself is a violation of law.




Employees cannot be fired due to their race, gender, national origin, age, religion, disability, sexual orientation, gender identity, or military status.


Employees cannot be fired for exercising a right that they are entitled to by statues, such as using his/her workers’ compensation benefits or casting a vote in the company stockholders meeting if they own stock.  These are very narrow exceptions.


Employees cannot be fired for refusing to commit a crime.


Can You Get Wrongful Termination in a Layoff?

Employees cannot be fired because they report a violation of law to a supervisor or the government. This could be a report of a discrimination claim, it could be a workplace safety claim filed with the Department of Labor, or a report of child abuse filed with a state agency. It could be a report of the company cheating on its taxes, failing to pay employees on time, or filing false invoices with the government.


Some of these claims only allow you to recover lost wages.  Others, such as discrimination claims, allow for “compensatory damages” for emotional distress. Most allow you to recover your attorneys’ fees if you win.


Can You get wrongful termination in a layoff?


Yes, but you have to prove the company violated one of these exceptions. The company has a ready excuse when it is conducting a layoff, for example, to save money. So, you have to overcome the company’s explanation.


Filing a Wrongful Termination Claim in Virginia


If you believe that you have a wrongful termination claim, it’s imperative that you speak to an experienced employment lawyer. The attorneys at Cook, Craig, and Francuzenko have over 100 years of combined experience. They have the knowledge and skill to help you build your case and navigate the legal system. Contact Cook, Craig, and Francuzenko today to learn more.

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