In New Hampshire, employment is considered to be “at will.” This means an employer can fire an employee for any reason as long as it is not an illegal reason. To prove a wrongful termination in court, the employer must show (1) the employer terminated the employee out of bad faith, malice or retaliation and (2) the employer did this because the employee performed some act which public policy would encourage, or refused to do something which public policy would condemn.
Similarly, whistleblower statutes, like R.S.A. 275-E protect employees from retaliatory firing when they have reported a violation of law by the employer either internally or to the authorities. Federal and state discrimination laws provide remedies for retaliatory firings of those who have opposed an employer’s discriminatory practices.
In these cases, the employer usually claims a business reason, like the employee’s alleged poor performance, is the reason for the termination. It is then necessary for the employee to prove the employer’s justification is false or pretextual. This is often done through the use of circumstantial evidence which includes proof of inconsistencies or improbabilities in the employer’s explanations which then expose the illegal motivation for the retaliation firing.
For example, recently Mr. Staples successfully represented a scientist who was wrongfully fired when he reported to his company that its quality test procedures had been corrupted causing false test results and the possible release of defective products to the public. As another example, Mr. Staples obtained a jury verdict for an executive director who was fired after she objected to her employer’s refusal to hire a qualified job applicant who was thought by the company’s hiring committee to be “too old.”