Can a ‘bad’ motive firing of an at-will employee backfire?

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in Employment Law,Firing,Human Resources

Marsha Bartel was an award-winning NBC journalist working on the “Dateline NBC” television show. Her employment contract with NBC said that at various intervals during its term she could be terminated for any reason or no reason. In essence, she was an at-will employee.

At one of those termination points, NBC fired her, claiming it was laying off staff. She sued NBC in federal district court in Chicago, alleging NBC had fired her for complaining that the show was not adhering to NBC’s internal ethical standards.

The case offers some important reminders about how to handle termination of at-will employees.

Allegations of lax standards

Bartel worked as a journalist for NBC for 21 years. She won awards for her work and was regarded as one of the best investigative journalists on the NBC news team. In August 2006, NBC assigned Bartel to be the sole producer of a segment titled “To Catch a Predator,” part of the “Dat...(register to read more)

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