Employment Law: What Constitutes Wrongful Termination in Arizona?

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Employment Law: What Constitutes Wrongful Termination in Arizona?

In Arizona, employees work “at will”, which means their employment can be terminated for any legal reason. However, those with employment contracts are not considered “at will” employees, and can only be dismissed for reasons outlined in their employment contract.

Here are some of the most common unlawful reasons to terminate employees, including at-will employees:

Discrimination.

Employers are not allowed to discriminate against or terminate employees because of age, race, gender, religion, national origin, pregnancy or disability. It is also illegal to terminate anyone for complaining about any such discrimination.

Whistleblowing.

In Arizona, it is against the law for an employer to fire or retaliate in any fashion against an employee who has refused to participate in or remain silent about illegal behavior in the workplace or actions that could potentially harm the public.

Sexual Harassment

To be considered illegal, sexually harassing behavior must be based on sex, be unwelcome, and be offensive to the target. Sexual jokes or a consensual sexual relationship between co-workers or a co-worker and a supervisor may sometimes be considered sexual harassment, although these may be more difficult to prove in court as sexual harassing behavior.

Employers who knew, or should have known, about sexual harassment in the workplace are still liable if they failed to stop it, even if no one has lodged a formal complaint.

Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) Violations

Federal and state laws dictate that employees have the right to a fair wage and that nonexempt employees — those who are paid an hourly wage — are also entitled to overtime pay. However, the laws are complex, so even salaried employees classified as exempt may have the right to overtime pay. Some common violations of the FLSA include:

  • Not paying the correct minimum wage.
  • Paying the lower “training wage” or “youth minimum wage” to workers who should be paid more.
  • Not paying overtime.
  • Improperly classifying employees as independent contractors.
  • Making employees work “off-the-clock,” and not paying them for it.
  • Deducting too much for tips.
  • Deducting for wages paid in goods, such as meals.

Employee lawsuits are one of the most prevalent sources of business litigation, so taking steps to avoid these types of claims can save employers significant time and money.

Employment law can be complex. Skilled representation is necessary. Williams Mestaz, L.L.P., is a law firm with decades of experience in commercial litigation, including employment contract lawsuits, IP infringement, business divorce, aviation, and high stakes litigation. Contact us at (602) 256-9400 and schedule a time to meet with us today.

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