Q and A

Q and A

Help Wanted

April 20, 2005

Fired employees have legal rights

Q: Is there any recourse for someone who was wrongly fired from their job? Are there lawyers for such people?

S.G., Manchester

A: In Maryland and most other states, fired employees do have legal recourse if their firing violated a specific statute (statutes prohibiting discrimination), if it breached a contract the employee had with the employer, or if the firing conflicts with a clear policy of the state (firing an employee for reporting a crime to the police).

There are many lawyers willing to represent fired employees, and some of the lawyers with the most experience doing that can be found through the Web site of the National Employment Lawyers Association, www.nela.org, which provides links to find employee lawyers in every state.

In Maryland, employees can also get help finding a lawyer by contacting the president of the Maryland affiliate of NELA, Deborah Eisenberg (410-962-1030, e-mail: dte@browngold.com). A fired employee won't necessarily have to sue the employer, because many employers will reverse the firing, or otherwise compensate the employee, if the employee or their lawyer informs the employer how the firing was "wrong" under the law.

MICHAEL HAYES associate professor of law

Q: Most businesses require security. Why are they not willing to pay security guards more money?

E.G., Baltimore

A: Businesses require all kinds of jobs to be done, and some of them are notoriously underpaid and underappreciated. Most companies pay the market value, and in many cases that reflects the consideration of what a job contributes to the bottom line.

In the case of security, some businesses require minimal qualifications pertaining to education and experience. Others see this function as key to their success, so they are intent on professionalizing their security personnel. Again, the bottom line is very likely the most important factor.

THOMAS BAILEY assistant professor applied behavioral sciences TOM MITCHELL director of graduate programs in applied psychology

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