COVID-19 Wrongful Termination Kentucky
If you’ve been fired from your job during the COVID-19 crisis, you may have felt it was unjust. But at what point does an unfair dismissal become wrongful termination in the eyes of the law? In Kentucky, as in many other states, an employer can lay off an employee “at-will,” which means they can do so for almost any reason (or for no reason at all). That being said, there are exceptions.
Some layoffs do constitute wrongful termination — especially if an employee was retaliated against for reporting unsafe work conditions, or for taking unpaid leave to care for themselves or their family when they’re seriously ill. In these cases, the dismissed employee should contact an attorney right away to see if they qualify for a lawsuit.
If a worker was wrongfully terminated for trying to keep their coworkers safe, or for tending to their health or the health of their family, they could be owed significant compensation from their former employer.
What Does Wrongful Termination Mean in Kentucky?
As an at-will state, most of Kentucky’s dismissals don’t actually break the law, even if they’re unwarranted. But some layoffs cross the line when it comes to state laws, while others violate federal statutes. Here are a couple examples that are particularly relevant during the COVID-19 pandemic:
- Retaliation: Retaliation is when an employer fires a worker for refusing to perform unlawful activities (such as falsifying records or committing perjury), for blowing the whistle on unlawful conduct, for filing a Human Resources complaint about unethical behavior, or for filing a workers’ compensation claim. If, for example, your employer forced you and your colleagues to work in hazardous conditions and failed to take the necessary COVID-19 precautions, and you were fired for reporting them, you may be able to pursue a lawsuit. Or if you contracted COVID-19 while at work, filed a workers’ compensation claim, and were laid off as a result, that too could qualify as wrongful termination.
- Violation of the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA): The FMLA guarantees unpaid time off when one is caring for a newborn, caring for a seriously ill family member, or taking care of their own severe medical condition. If an employee or their family member contracts COVID-19, they should be entitled to unpaid time off to care for themselves or their loved one. If their employer fires them for taking this time off, the worker may be able to file a lawsuit for unpaid benefits, emotional distress, and other damages.
How Do I File a COVID-19 Wrongful Termination Lawsuit?
The first step is to speak with an experienced labor and employment attorney to find out if you’re owed money for lost wages, lost benefits, pain and suffering, and other damages. You may think you can’t afford a lawyer, but at Morgan & Morgan, consultations are free and it costs nothing upfront to hire us. In fact, we get paid only if you win.
Over the past 30 years, we’ve recovered more than $9 billion for people who were wronged or exploited. We’re America’s largest personal injury law firm, and we file more employment cases than any other firm.
To see if our Kentucky wrongful termination attorneys can help you, schedule a free case evaluation.