Arkansas is an employment at will state. That means an employer has wide discretion in making hiring/firing decisions. But employers do not have unlimited discretion.
Employees have various legal protections that limit the reasons for which they can be terminated. When an employee is fired on an illegal basis, he or she can bring a claim of wrongful termination. Typically, this means that the employer violated a specific statute (e.g. Title VII). Wrongful terminations can also arise where the employer terminates someone in violation of an employment contract. In Arkansas, there is also a public policy exception to the at will doctrine. Under this exception, an employee may bring a claim for wrongful termination where the basis for his or her firing goes against the well-established public policy of the State of Arkansas. It is important to note that this is a narrow category, and the Courts generally look to the state’s laws already in place in determining whether a policy is well established.
Employees that are subjected to a wrongful termination may be able to recover compensatory damages including loss of wages, punitive damages, and attorney fees.
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