Virginia Wrongful Termination in Violation of Public Policy
In Virginia, wrongful termination in violation of public policy is a common law claim, meaning that it was created by judges. It is an exception to the at-will doctrine, which states that an employee in the private sector can quit at any time and be fired by their employer at any time.
Actions filed under this common law are sometimes called Bowman claims (the name of the case where the doctrine first appeared in Virginia). It is a narrow exception to the at-will doctrine and applies in certain limited situations. Specifically, a Virginia employer cannot fire an employee for exercising (or attempting to exercise) a statutorily created right, for reasons that violate an express public policy, or for refusing to commit a crime. If your boss fired you for unlawful reasons, you could hold them accountable with the help of a skilled wrongful termination attorney.
Examples of Wrongful Terminations and Policy Violations
When an employer interferes with a worker’s ability to exercise their statutorily created rights, they could be held liable with the help of a qualified attorney. For example, an employee who attempts to file a worker’s compensation claim would be exercising a statutorily created right and could not be legally terminated for doing so.
Additionally, it is illegal for an employer to fire an employee who refuses to engage with sex with his or her boss, as this firing would violate Virginia laws concerning lewd and lascivious conduct and fornication.
The third kind of Bowman claim is when an employee is fired because he or she refuses to engage in a crime. For example, if a person’s employer tells them that they have to do something fraud-related and subsequently fires them for refusing to do so, that would be against public policy. An employee cannot be fired for refusing to commit a crime.
What Qualifies as Public Policy?
When the courts encounter wrongful termination in violation of public policy, they refer to Virginia law to determine whether a public policy has been violated.
A termination could also be in violation of public policy if an employer fires an employee in a way that interferes with their ability to engage in behaviors and activities which are within their rights. For example, if a business owner fires a worker to prevent them from taking legal action against the company for its unlawful business practices, that could be considered a breach of public policy.
However, it can be difficult to bring such a claim because the courts tend to view the public policy exception narrowly. For this reason, it is best to enlist the services of a diligent attorney from our firm before taking any action against your employer.
Learn More about Virginia Wrongful Terminations in Violation of Public Policy from an Attorney
An experienced lawyer in Virginia can help an employee who has been wrongfully terminated in violation of public policy by evaluating their employer’s behavior and speaking to witnesses. Negotiating a settlement with your boss or filing in court and litigating a Virginia wrongful termination in violation of public policy can both be made easier with the help of the Spiggle Law Firm. Call us today to learn more about your employment rights.