Wrongful Termination Laws

Just because Arizona is an at-will employment state doesn’t mean employers can terminate you for any reason. In fact, it’s illegal to dismiss a worker based on qualities beyond their control, such as their race, age, sex, religion, or disability. In the event that you are fired for one of these protected qualities, you may be able to file a lawsuit for wrongful termination. Read on to learn more about wrongful termination and find out if you have grounds to sue your employer.

What Is Wrongful Termination?

You probably know that Arizona is an “at-will” employment state, meaning that companies can hire and terminate workers for almost any reason they choose. However, circumstances exist in which firing an employee may constitute a violation of state or federal law. In these cases, workers may be within their rights to file a lawsuit on the grounds of wrongful termination. 

Employees need to adhere to the specific laws of their state when filing a wrongful termination suit. In Arizona, you have one year after your termination date to sue your employer. Additionally, your lawsuit must be based on one or more of the following:

  • Discrimination – Arizona state law and federal employment law bar companies from discriminating against workers based on attributes outside their control. In other words, your employer may not fire you due to your race, age, sex, religion, or country of origin. Additionally, the law prohibits companies from firing or discriminating against workers who have a physical or mental disability. 
  • Medical condition – Developing a medical condition is not a valid reason for an employer to fire you. Moreover, companies must take reasonable steps to accommodate your illness or injury.
  • Legal rights or public policy requirements – The law prohibits companies from firing employees who attempt to form a union or report workplace safety issues. Additionally, employers are barred from terminating workers who miss work due to jury duty or another public service.
  • Contract rights  – If your employer terminated you for a reason that violated the requirements laid out in your contract or the company handbook, you may have grounds for a lawsuit. 


Steps for Filing a Wrongful Termination Suit

As an Arizona resident, you must follow certain steps to file suit for wrongful termination. Below are the actions to take if you think you’ve been illegally dismissed from your job:

  1. Notify your former employer’s HR department to request an explanation of why you were fired.
  2. Write a letter explaining your reasons for disputing the termination.
  3. Compile important documents, including contracts, employee manuals, evaluations, personnel files, and pay stubs. Be prepared to detail how being fired has affected your financial status. Note that your company is legally obligated to provide you with documents relevant to your employment. If you are having trouble getting ahold of the necessary contracts and files, don’t hesitate to seek help from an employment lawyer. 
  4. Keep all communications with your former employer, including letters, emails, and texts. Take notes and record the dates of any phone calls.
  5. Create a list of colleagues and/or supervisors who can serve as witnesses in the case. You may also want to talk to other employees who have been fired from the company.

You can contact an employment law attorney at any point in the process. However, because wrongful termination cases are notoriously hard to prove, it pays to speak to a lawyer as soon as possible. Additionally, a knowledgeable attorney can assess your case and help you determine your odds of success.

How to Prove Wrongful Termination

Proving wrongful termination can be complex. After all, most employers aren’t going to admit that they fired you based on a protected characteristic or condition. With that in mind, most wrongful termination cases come down to circumstantial evidence. 

Past performance plays a key role in these lawsuits. For example, if a company claims they terminated a female employee for chronic lateness, and the employee can demonstrate that two male colleagues were not fired for the same transgression, she may be able to prove wrongful termination based on gender.

It’s important to prove that your employer knew about your protected characteristic prior to firing you. While these attributes may be obvious in cases related to race or gender, alleging discrimination based on other qualities can be more challenging. For example, if you’re claiming that your employer fired you for being disabled, you will first have to prove that they knew about your disability. 

Trust Us With Your Wrongful Termination Suit in Phoenix

Our experienced attorneys are ready and waiting to handle your employment cases in Phoenix and beyond. We’re passionate about protecting your rights by aggressively representing you in cases involving discrimination, wrongful termination, sexual harassment, and more. Ready to speak to a member of our team? Call today or contact our trusted team online.