For a termination or firing to be considered “wrongful” under the applicable legal standards, the termination must have been for an illegal or unlawful reason, or it must have been in violation of any applicable contractual terms.
In West Virginia, most employees are considered to be “at-will” unless there is a specific contract of employment. That means that an employer can terminate an employee at any time for any reason – good, bad, unfair, or no reason at all – as long as it is not an illegal or unlawful reason.
For example, it is illegal or unlawful to terminate an employee based upon their race, religion, color, national origin, ancestry, sex, or age. It is also illegal or unlawful to terminate an employee for engaging in protected activity. For more information about illegal and unlawful terminations, please review our blog on At-Will Employment Explained.
The term “wrongful termination” is really a misnomer because an employer, technically, can terminate an employee for a “wrong” or incorrect reason so long as it is not a reason that violates the law or any applicable contract.