When it comes to wrongful dismissal lawsuits, one of the most-cited — but least-understood — factors at play is discrimination. But as employment lawyers can tell you, there are actually relatively few things defined by federal law as illegal discrimination. Here are five surprising reasons your boss can fire you that are completely legal:
- Because You’re Too Short or Fat
There’s no legal protection for body types in federal legislation, and people regularly experience height and weight discrimination. The only reason why firing you for being short or overweight might be illegal in some cases is if your body condition can be classified as a disability, in which case you might have protection under the Americans With Disabilities Act.
- Because You’re Beautiful (or Not)
Shockingly, there’s no federal law preventing employers from hiring and firing based on looks. If you notice that only women are being held to such standards, however, you may be able to make a case based on sex discrimination prohibitions. You’d want to talk to employment attorneys about the strength of such a case before moving forward, though.
- Because You’re Not Buddies
Nepotism isn’t fair, but it’s not illegal, either. If you’re working in the private sector, your employer is completely within his or her rights to fire you in order to hire a friend or family member (there are laws in every state preventing conflict-of-interest hirings and firings for government jobs).
- Because You’re Too Young
The well-known list of reasons employers may not discriminate against workers — race, color, national origin, sex, religion, disability or age — makes it sound as if federal law protects workers claiming they were illegally passed over or fired because of being young. But the federal law only applies to workers over 40. Some states expand that protection to young workers, but not all.
- Because You’re Not Well Dressed
Your employer could explicitly tell you that you were being fired because of the shirt you’re wearing, and you probably wouldn’t have grounds for a wrongful dismissal lawsuit based on discrimination. The exception would be if your employer told you your clothing was undesirable based on protected traits (religious garb, a shirt that wasn’t revealing enough, and so forth). But if your employer just doesn’t like blue shirts, you’re out of luck.
Did you think there were more discrimination rights for employees? Did any of these surprise you? Use the comments to discuss whether you think wrongful dismissal lawsuits or unfair hiring claims should apply in the situations outlined above.