Do You Have a Claim for Wrongful Discharge Under the Public Policy Exception to the Employment at Will Doctrine in Wisconsin?
In Wisconsin, most employees are employees at will. This means that an employer can legally fire the employee for any reason or no reason, including reasons that are unfair, false, or arbitrary.
There are a number of exceptions to the employment at will doctrine. One exception in Wisconsin is referred to as the public policy exception to the employment at will doctrine.
According to the public policy exception, an employer cannot terminate an employee for the employee’s refusal to comply with an express command, request or instruction by the employer to act in an unlawful or illegal manner.
This means that an employer cannot terminate an employee because of the employee’s refusing to violate a state or federal law, including those laws set forth in the constitution, statutes or administrative code. If a termination occurs under these circumstances, the employee will have a legal claim against the employer for wrongful discharge.
In addition, an employer cannot terminate an employee who engages in affirmative conduct that the employee is required to engage in by law. Put another way, an employee cannot be terminated for taking some action that he or she is required, by law, to take. This is true even if the employer does not request that the employee take the action.
If a termination occurs under these circumstances, the employee will have a legal claim against the employer for wrongful discharge. An example of this is an employee who makes a report to law enforcement officials or other government officials that is mandated by law and is then fired for making the mandated report.
An employee who is terminated by an employer in violation of the public policy exception to the employment at will doctrine has a right to certain legal remedies. These remedies include back pay and reinstatement. In some circumstances, if reinstatement is not feasible, the employee may be entitled to front pay in lieu of reinstatement.
For more information , contact:
Peter M. Reinhardt