January 25, 2019
I represent both employers and employees in labor and employment disputes and regularly present educational training seminars on a variety of employment law topics. Often employers contact me to determine if a proposed course of discipline or termination would be lawful. Equally as often, employees contact me to determine whether they should file a lawsuit over the discipline or termination imposed by the employer. Many laws protect both employers and employees, so there is no one-size-fits-all answer to any of these questions. If I had to explain Mississippi at-will employment in one page – here it goes:
Mississippi Employment Law, In a Nutshell
By: Stacie E. Zorn, Esq.
In the absence of a contract stating otherwise, Mississippi is an at‑will employment state, meaning an employer can terminate an employee for a good reason, a bad reason, or no reason at all, as long as it is not a discriminatory reason or otherwise prohibited by law. Federal anti‑discrimination laws protect employees from suffering adverse employment actions, including but not limited to, termination, harassment, or retaliation, as a result of unlawful discrimination. State laws protect employees from wrongful termination, constructive discharge and certain intentional torts, among other things.
Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 is the law that protects applicants and employees from discrimination on the basis of their race, color, religion, sex or national origin.
The Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) prohibits discrimination against individuals with disabilities in job application procedures, hiring, firing, advancement, compensation, job training, and other terms, conditions or privileges of employment. The ADA also requires employers to provide a reasonable accommodation to applicants and employees unless doing so would cause an undue hardship to the employer.
The Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) makes it unlawful for an employer to discriminate against an applicant or employee because of his age. Protections are limited to individuals age 40 years or older.
The Genetic Information Non-Discrimination Act (GINA) prohibits employers from making adverse employment decisions based on a person’s genetic code or information.
The Equal Pay Act (EPA) requires that men and women be given equal pay for equal work.
The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) provides eligible employees who work for a covered employer up to 12 weeks leave for certain events, including birth and care of a newborn child of the employee, placement with the employee of a son or daughter for adoption or foster care, care of an immediate family member who has a serious health condition, care of the employee’s own serious health condition, qualifying exigency leave arising from a spouse, parent or child being on or called to active duty, and care for an injured service member.
The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) requires employees to pay non-exempt employees at least minimum wage of $7.25 per hour and 1.5 times their regular rate for all hours worked in excess of 40 in a workweek.
Under Mississippi law, it is unlawful for an employer to terminate an employee because he or she has either reported an illegal activity of the employer or refused to engage in an illegal activity of the employer. Said employees are commonly referred to as “whistleblowers.”
Employers can also be liable under MS law for wrongful termination, constructive discharge, and negligent or intentional infliction of emotional distress.
Employees who have been laid off from work or terminated for non-wilful violations of employers known policies are entitled to the benefit of unemployment compensation.
If you would like to consult regarding a proposed plan of discipline or termination, or, if you have been discriminated against, denied benefits or unlawfully terminated, I would be glad to talk to you about the matter. I can be contacted at 228-762-8021.
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