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What is violation of public policy in Virginia

Richmond, VA |

I was fired 3 days after reporting my superviosr for time fraud. I had a good evaluation just 12 days before. The reason givem me was not being able to get along with my supervisor. I have since learned that lying was the new reason for my termination. Lastly I have now been made aware of a reprimand that I never had nor signed. There is no signature by my supervisor or me or any notaion of a refusal to sign. Can they accuse me of these things and falsify my employment file?

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Attorney answers 4


Generally, if there is no written employment contract, employment is considered "at will," and employers have wide latitude in terms of terminating employment. Exceptions include discrimination (age, race, gender, for example), retaliation for exercise of certain statutorily protected rights, and the more general "against public policy" category. This last may sound promising but in most states it is a very high bar, and only applied where the discharge is against a clearly articulated public policy, such as firing an employee for doing something the law clearly requires or refusing to do something the law clearly forbids. Unfortunately, even very unfair and poorly documented terminations are not necessarily unlawful.

That said, these things can be very fact-specific and you should talk to an employment lawyer licensed in Virginia. Many take cases on a contingency fee basis, and would be better able to give you a sense of whether you have a claim.


sorry- I glossed over the first sentence in your post. It is not necessarily the case that having reported your supervisor would put this in a retaliatory discharge category, depending on the facts, but you should definitely see an attorney.


Richmond - sadly, they can fire you as the other attorney wrote, for any reason. They don't actually have to prove that you lied or had problems with your supervisor.

Under Virginia law, absent an employment contract, all employees are at will and may be fired without reason.

The other issue is whether or not you can prove information in your employment file is false.

Have you seen the file? Ask to see it first. It doesn't sound like you need or want a recommendation from these folks anyway - and there is little legal recourse unless you know you did not get a new job, because of the lie. Then you could have a cause of action for fraud, defamation or tortious intereference of contract.

Again, you have to prove that they have shared the lie, and then prove it was a lie - it is a very high standard.


Age, racial differences, gender, religious belief, etc. all are discriminatory reasons for which you might base a wrongful termination suit and for which you cannot be legally fired.

You might find my Legal Guide helpful "Workplace Discrimination: A Basis for Wrongful Termination Claims"

You might find my Legal Guide helpful "How to Choose a Lawyer for you.”

You might find my Legal Guide helpful "What Do I Tell My Lawyer"?

No one can know what the record is in the case because online we cannot find out any details. If you have a discrimination theory about retaliatory discharge or hostile workplace conditions you'll need a lawyer. Check with a lawyer in your locale to discuss more of the details. If you are an at-will employee, you can be fired for any reason or no reason, except unlawful discrimination. If you do not have an employment contract or union to represent you, your recourse is limited. Discrimination based on age, gender, race, religious beliefs etc.... may give rise to a different answer.

Good luck to you.

God bless.

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