In West Virginia and many other states, employers have the right to fire an employee whenever they want for most reasons. However, there are laws in place to protect employees in certain circumstances. For example, an employee cannot be terminated for retaliatory reasons as we discussed in a post earlier this month when a man was fired for reporting illegal behavior in his workplace. Other cases of wrongful termination, however, involve employees being fired for discriminatory reasons, such as race, gender or age.
An example of discriminatory termination in West Virginia recently came to light. According to a report by the West Virginia Record, Maxim Crane Works LP fired an employee in 2010. The employee claimed that Maxim violated the West Virginia Human Rights Act when they fired him. He argued that he was fired unjustly because of his age and because they believed him to be disabled in some way.
According to the West Virginia Human Rights Act, an employer cannot fire an employee because of a disability, age -- when 40 or older -- or several other factors including sex, race, national origin, and familial status. The Human Rights Act states that such behavior would limit equal opportunity and fail to promote a free society. If you feel that you were fired because of one of these things, you may have been wrongfully terminated and should consider options for holding your former employer accountable.
In his original lawsuit, the man sought punitive and compensatory damages. However, the parties have since settled the dispute after undergoing mediation. It's not clear what sort of agreement the parties came to, but it is likely the former employee received some sort of compensation.
Source: The West Virginia Record, "Maxim Crane Works wrongful termination lawsuit settled," Kyla Asbury, April 22, 2013