Can a Contractor Sue for Wrongful Termination?

Are you an independent contractor who has recently been unfairly fired and is wondering if you can sue for wrongful termination?

Do you feel you were unfairly terminated by an employer and are seeking information about your rights as a 1099 employee?

If you find yourself agreeing with any of the situations mentioned above, you’ve come to the right source.

This article aims to provide you with a proper understanding of the definition of an independent contractor and the legal aspects surrounding their termination.

An image for Can an employer sue for wrongful termination?
Can a contractor sue for wrongful termination?
Source: justiceatwork

Who is an Independent Contractor?

An independent contractor is someone who works for themselves and provides services to others based on a contract.

They get to choose who they work with and how they work.

Furthermore, independent contractors handle their own taxes, and employers don’t have to cover their taxes or provide training.

This is because they are  responsible for their own tools and managing their work hours.

Hiring an independent contractor can be a way for businesses to get help without hiring a full-time employee.

This is a great way to save money and get work done since the business doesn’t have to pay or withhold their taxes.

However, some businesses misclassify contractors to avoid paying those taxes.

It’s important to note that the contractor status depends on the nature of the relationship between the client and the contractor.

Can an independent contractor sue for wrongful termination?

Yes, If you’re a true independent contractor, and you experience wrongful termination, you can sue the company for breaking the contract.

However, your ability to sue depends on what your contract says, whether it was written down, spoken, or just understood.

If the company has not followed the contract before firing you, you have the right to sue to ensure they make things right.

Some of the possible remedies in this case could be:

  1. Compensation for financial losses caused by the breach.
  2. Agreed-upon reasonable liquidated damages between you and the hiring entity.
  3. Payment for any services you’ve already provided.
  4. Cancellation of the remaining part of the contract.
  5. A court order compelling the hiring entity to fulfill the rest of the agreement.

Additionally, if the company treated you badly based on things like your gender, race, religion, or other factors, they could be held responsible for the above remedies.

Instances when a contractor can sue for wrongful termination

Instances when a contractor can sue for wrongful termination
Instances when a contractor can sue for wrongful termination

Usually, a company can end a contract when a project is done.

Nevertheless, there are three situations where they can’t do that. If they do, the independent contractor can sue them to court.

These are:

1. Breaching the contract terms

Independent contractors work under a contract that specifies the project, their duties, and expectations.

Additionally, the contract states the situations when either the business or the contractor can end the contract at any time.

However, if a business breaks the contract terms and causes financial harm to the contractor, the contractor can sue them for wrongful termination.

Alternatively, if you are a business that wants to work with an independent contractor, you can make a contract with a legal termination clause.

This way, you can terminate the contractor if they do not meet the expected outcomes.

In these cases, you (as a business) have to follow the rules for terminating the contractor as per the contract.

The process may involve arbitration steps to give the contractor a chance to fix their errors or advance notice of termination.

Note that, if you fire the contractor, you have to pay them for all the work they have done for you.

2. Employer Retaliation

Sometimes, an independent contractor may challenge the work relationship with their clients.

This often occurs when clients act like they are the contractor’s employers and dictate their pay, hours, and breaks.

If you are an independent contractor and the client reacts negatively because you resist their interference in your work. You can sue them as long as you fulfill the contract terms.

3. Forced resignation

When your client deliberately or knowingly creates unbearable working conditions for you, forcing you to quit, this is a forced resignation.

Keep in mind, a client cannot legally terminate an independent contractor if they reject working under unacceptable conditions.

For instance, you are an independent contractor in the construction sector.

Your client lets a dangerous work environment continue and fires you for not complying or you quit because you are afraid for your own safety; this will be an unfair termination.

In this situation, an independent contractor can sue the client.

Wrongfully terminated as an independent contractor, here’s what to do.

If you think that your client breached the contract and ended your services unfairly, you need to collect all the proof to back up your case.

As a 1099 independent contractor, you need to show a copy of the written agreement that you signed with the client.

The agreement should specify the details of your work relationship with the client, such as your tasks, expected results, and termination conditions.

If you did not have a written contract, you need to bring a witness who can confirm your verbal agreement.

Additionally, you need to keep a detailed record of what the client told you before and after they fired you and about your contract.

You should also note and document any changes in the client’s behavior if you reported any violations or unlawful work situations.

Moreover, you can present your past performance reviews to demonstrate that you followed all the rules and standards required from you.

Therefore, if you received sudden negative feedback after you reported unacceptable work conditions or actions by the client, that would indicate wrongful termination.

Tips for independent contractors

Here are some suggestions to help independent contractors protect themselves in the event of termination:

  • Save all emails and documents between you and the other party, especially those related to the reasons for termination.
  • Review the circumstances around your termination to ensure there was no unfair treatment.
  • If you are an independent contractor, consult with a lawyer or law firm promptly if you suspect any unfair actions that led to your termination.
  • Although going after legal action may take time, it ensures that both the employer and the 1099 independent contractor followed the law throughout the process.


In conclusion, independent contractors have limited legal protection against wrongful termination by their clients.

However, they can still sue for breach of contract, employer retaliation, or constructive termination if they have enough evidence to support their claim.

Independent contractors should always have a written contract that specifies the terms and conditions of their work relationship, and follow the procedure for termination if they occur.

Clients should also respect the rights and freedom of independent contractors, and avoid misclassifying them as employees.

By doing so, both parties can benefit from a mutually beneficial and lawful work arrangement.

Related Articles:


Leave a Comment