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Wrongful Termination in Arizona: Grounds and Protections under Employment Law

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Wrongful termination is a distressing reality for many employees, causing financial hardship and emotional stress.

In Arizona, like in other states, employees are protected by employment laws that safeguard them from unfair dismissals.

Understanding the grounds for wrongful termination is essential for anyone who believes they may have been unjustly let go from their job.

In this comprehensive post, we will delve into the grounds for wrongful termination in Arizona, exploring the protections provided by employment law and the recourse available to affected employees.

Grounds for Wrongful Termination in Arizona

Arizona is an at-will employment state, meaning that in the absence of an employment contract or collective bargaining agreement, either the employer or the employee can terminate the employment relationship at any time and for any reason, or for no reason at all.

However, even in an at-will employment state like Arizona, there are exceptions to this general rule.

The following are common grounds for wrongful termination:

Violation of Employment Contract

Wrongful termination can occur when an employee is fired in violation of the terms outlined in their employment contract.

If the contract specifies reasons for termination or provides provisions for termination with cause, the employer must adhere to these conditions.

Disregarding contractual obligations can lead to a wrongful termination claim.


Under the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and other federal and state laws, it is illegal to terminate an employee based on protected characteristics such as race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, disability, or pregnancy.

If an employee can demonstrate that their termination was motivated by discriminatory factors, they may have a strong claim for wrongful termination under employment law.


Employees have protection against retaliation for exercising their legal rights, such as reporting workplace discrimination or harassment, filing a workers’ compensation claim, or whistleblowing.

If an employee is fired shortly after engaging in such protected activities, it may be considered wrongful termination.

Public Policy Violation

Arizona recognizes the public policy exception, which means that an employer cannot fire an employee for refusing to engage in illegal activities or for reporting illegal actions within the company or to regulatory authorities.

Wrongful termination claims based on public policy violations often involve complex legal arguments.

Breach of Implied Covenant of Good Faith and Fair Dealing

In Arizona, there is an implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing in every employment relationship.

If an employer terminates an employee in bad faith or for reasons contrary to common decency, it may constitute wrongful termination.

FMLA Violation

The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) grants eligible employees unpaid leave for specific family and medical reasons.

Termination in retaliation for taking FMLA leave is a violation of employment law and may be grounds for a wrongful termination claim.


Arizona has specific laws protecting whistleblowers who report illegal or unethical conduct within their organization.

An employer cannot retaliate against an employee for reporting such activities.

Workers’ Compensation Claims

Terminating an employee in retaliation for filing a workers’ compensation claim is illegal in Arizona.

Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (GINA) Violation

Wrongful termination can occur if an employer discriminates against an employee based on genetic information.

Implications of Wrongful Termination

Wrongful termination can have significant consequences for both employees and employers.

For employees, it can result in emotional distress, financial hardship, and damage to their professional reputation.

Moreover, losing a job unfairly can adversely impact their future career prospects.

On the other hand, employers found guilty of wrongful termination may face legal penalties, including reinstatement of the terminated employee, payment of back wages and benefits, and in some cases, punitive damages.

Recourse for Wrongful Termination

In the event that an employee believes they have been wrongfully terminated, they may take the following steps:

Document the Events

Keep a detailed record of the circumstances leading up to and surrounding the termination, including any discriminatory remarks, performance evaluations, or incidents of retaliation.

Consult an Employment Attorney

Seeking advice from an experienced employment lawyer can provide invaluable guidance.

An attorney will review the case, assess the grounds for wrongful termination, and explain the available legal options.

File a Complaint

Depending on the grounds for wrongful termination, an employee may file a complaint with either state or federal agencies, such as the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) or the Arizona Civil Rights Division.

Seeking Legal Assistance

If you believe you have been wrongfully terminated, it is essential to consult an experienced employment lawyer who specializes in wrongful termination cases.

An employment attorney can evaluate your situation, gather evidence, and advise you on the best course of action.

They can help you file a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) or the Arizona Civil Rights Division and represent you during negotiations or litigation, if necessary.

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Wrongful termination is a complex and emotionally charged issue that can have far-reaching consequences for affected employees.

Understanding the grounds for wrongful termination in Arizona and the protections offered by employment law is crucial for safeguarding employees’ rights.

If you believe you have been wrongfully terminated, consulting with an experienced employment attorney can help you explore the available legal remedies and pursue appropriate action.

Remember, seeking redress for such termination can be a step towards fostering fair and just workplaces for all.

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