Maryland Wrongful Termination Cases. What is a Maryland "Wrongful Termination"?
For employees in Maryland, Maryland courts recognize a cause of action for “Wrongful termination in violation of Public Policy,” or sometimes referred to as Maryland Abusive Discharge Cases.”
To state a claim or file a lawsuit in Maryland for wrongful termination in violation of public policy an employee and/or Plaintiff must show:
"(1) that the employee was discharged; (2) that the dismissal violates some clear mandate of public policy; and (3) that there is a nexus between the defendant and the decision to fire the employee.
Maryland Wrongful Discharge Law. When is a Termination or Discharge Unlawful?
Maryland wrongful termination in violation of public policy cases require the employee/Plaintiff to show that he or she was wrongfully “discharged,” terminated or fired. There are several ways to demonstrate wrongful discharge or termination.
In the typical case, an employee is terminated by his or her supervisor. This may come in the form of:
a) a written termination letter b) a verbal termination c) an indefinite suspension or d) removal of the employees' work duties. In some cases, the termination or “discharge” may not be so transparent. Examples Include:
continuously disciplined, mistreated, punished the employee
Place the employee in a hostile work environment such that they are “constructively discharged.”
Force the employee to sign a letter of resignation;
Make comments, threats or take actions that show the employee will be terminated.
Usually, the working environment becomes so intolerable for the employee that they are forced to resign. In other cases, the employer, boss or supervisor threatens to terminate the employee and pressures the employee to quit.
This is called “constructive discharge” or “constructive termination.” In Maryland, employees that are constructively discharged or terminated may be able to bring a case against an employer for “wrongful termination in violation of public policy.” Examples include:
- "Cases where the employer altered employee’s working conditions with the intention that it would cause the employee to resign sufficient to prove constructive discharge.”
- Cases where the Maryland employer coerces or forces the employee to resign his or her position, sufficient to prove constructive discharge in wrongful termination case.
- Cases where “employer has deliberately caused or allowed the employee’s working conditions to become so intolerable that a reasonable person in the employee’s place would have felt compelled to resign.”
Constructive discharges in Maryland wrongful termination cases are evaluated on a case by case basis. It is important to consult with an attorney to evaluate whether your case meets the “discharge,” “termination” or “constructive discharge” tests.
Maryland Termination that Violates Public Policy. What is a Termination in Violation of Public Policy?
The second element of a Maryland wrongful termination case requires that the employee show the termination violated some “clear mandate of Maryland public policy.”
A Maryland employee bringing a wrongful termination claim must show that:
The Maryland public policy is a “preexisting, unambiguous, and particularized pronouncement by constitution, enactment, or prior judicial decision, directing, prohibiting, or protecting the conduct in question so as to make the public policy on the relevant topic not a matter of conjecture or interpretation.'"
The public policy must be: "be reasonably discernible from prescribed constitutional or statutory mandates.”
The employee must identify the source of the Maryland public policy “with particularity.
Whether an employee has alleged a “clear public policy” is usually a critical issue in a Maryland wrongful termination case.
Sources of Maryland Public Policy that can form the basis for a Wrongful Termination Action to show a “clear mandate” of Maryland public policy, an employee may point to:
Judicial decisions that describe a Maryland public policy;
Constitutional provisions that describe a clear policy;
Other legal sources (e.g., administrative regulations)
For example, Maryland Courts and U.S. District Courts in the District of Maryland have found a wrongful termination in violation of public policy where:
Employer may not terminate an employee for engaging in statutory right to provide information to criminal or civil investigative agencies;
Employer may not terminate employee for employee exercising right to file civil lawsuits and engage in the civil litigation process;
Wrongful termination where employer terminates employee for exercising his or her right to file a workers’ compensation claim;
Wrongful termination case found where employer required employee to engage in illegal activity and employee refused to engage in activity.
The law of wrongful termination in violation of public policy in Maryland is constantly evolving. The Maryland legislature is constantly enacting new statutes and protections for Maryland citizens and employees that may give rise to possible claims for “wrongful termination in violation of public policy.”
Hiring a Maryland Wrongful Termination Attorney.
It is important to contact an attorney early in the process to determine a) whether there is a valid Maryland public policy that protects the employee and b) the proper legal process and steps to make disclosures or complaints regarding the “public policy."
DK Associates has represented Maryland employees in Maryland wrongful termination cases and is able to help employees facing these difficult situations.
Please call (202) 430-5966 or email the firm to set up a potential “wrongful termination” free consult.
DK Associates services wrongful termination clients in Baltimore, Rockville, Chevy Chase, Bethesda and all areas of the Maryland / Washington D.C. metro area.