Despite the myriad state and federal statutes that protect workers from discrimination and retaliation, there still exist gaps that render some employees vulnerable. To address these gaps, many courts allow employees to proceed under common law wrongful termination claims, the nuances of which differ across Maryland, Virginia, and D.C.
This article by TELG managing principal R. Scott Oswald and TELG principal Michael Vogelsang was published by American University Labor & Employment Law Forum on July 23, 2013. The full article is available as a PDF on our site and at American University Labor & Employment Law Forum.
American University Labor & Employment Law Forum
The ABCs of Common Law Wrongful Termination Claims in the Washington Metropolitan Region
While there are numerous statutes protecting employees’ job security, legal gaps still exist that render employees vulnerable in many ways. This is especially true given the at-will nature of most employment in the United States. To fill these gaps, most courts — including those of Maryland, Virginia, and the District of Columbia — created common law tort actions for wrongful discharge in violation of public policy. Though the elements of these claims are generally similar, each jurisdiction establishes important limitations that employment attorneys must understand. The available sources of public policy vary and there are many statutory remedies primed to preempt related common law tort actions. The damages available under wrongful termination do not suffer from the same caps as some statutory claims, and the statutes of limitations fall in terms of years instead of days. Nevertheless, some plaintiffs can still strategically benefit from bringing actions under both the common law and state or federal statutes.