Because American law retains its roots in English common law, most rights and remedies of American workers derive from membership in a union or from statutes enacted in the past 50 years. If you are a member of a union and have been suspended or terminated, your first move is to contact your union representative.
Below are some alternative sources of help.
In Maryland, a fired worker can recover damages for a specific kind of termination. Maryland defines “wrongful termination” as an employer firing an employee for refusing obey an order that violates public policy.
The reason I know this law is because I helped create the law. In Ashton v. Insignia Residential, my client was a new employee assigned to track the accounts for a residential property management company. For several weeks, a regional manager made sexual advances, but he eventually stopped. A few days later, her direct manager promised to promote her and then grabbed her. She pulled away, and he tore her blouse. She ran from the office and drove home. Later that day, a messenger delivered a letter terminating her.
Relying on a footnote in a prior decision, I filed a lawsuit. After we won the trial, the company appealed. Arguing before the Maryland Court of Appeals, I won, and Maryland officially recognized the claim of wrongful termination based on quid pro quo sexual harassment.
Maryland law prohibits an employer from firing, or refusing to hire or promote, an individual based on ethnicity, religion, age, gender, or disability. Employers can defend their decisions by identifying the relevance of certain attributes. For example, the sales department can require that every member of the sales team is fluent in English.
Along with protections for union members, non-probationary Federal employees have a grievance procedure. The United States Merit Protection Board exists to insure that Federal employees receive Due Process. A supervisor must have a basis for terminating a subordinate that comports with the governing statute. Probationary employees have the same statutory protection; however, they must rely on the Office of Special Counsel to gain relief.