How to explain wrongful termination in an interview?

In today’s competitive job market, addressing previous employment experiences, especially instances of wrongful termination, can be a delicate yet crucial aspect of any interview.

Navigating these discussions with finesse requires a strategic approach to ensure you present yourself in the best light possible.

Let’s talk about the effective ways to explain wrongful termination during a job interview, as we empower you to confidently address these challenges and focus on your qualifications and potential contributions to your future employer.

An image illustrating wrongful termination
Wrongful termination
Source: Workplacerights

What’s wrongful termination?

Wrongful termination happens when your employer fires you in a way that breaks the law or goes against your employment agreement.

Usually, in most states, employment is considered “at-will,” meaning your employer can let you go for various reasons.

However, if the firing is against the law or your work agreement, it’s important to consult with a legal expert if you believe you’ve been wrongfully terminated.

Examples of Wrongful termination

Wrongful termination might appear as follows, among other things;

1.Breach of contract

A breach of contract happens when a company breaks a written agreement or goes against the rules outlined in the employee handbook.

For instance, it could occur if an employer dismisses an employee after a verbal warning, even though the handbook says a written warning should follow.

This also applies to violations of a specific contract between an employee and their employer.

For example, if a contract allows remote work, the employer can’t fire the employee for choosing this option without breaking the contract.


Discrimination in the workplace involves firing or mistreating someone because of their age, race, disability, gender, religion or sexual orientation.

Discrimination can involve unfair treatment in words, writings, or actions.

For instance, if a manager treats an employee unfairly because of their age and then fires them, it could be a wrongful termination case.

Discriminatory behaviors may also happen through communication like emails, texts, or chat programs between employees and managers.


In a workplace, harassment involves negative or offensive comments about gender, race, religion, age, disability, or sexual orientation.

Unwanted sexual advances or retaliation for rejected advances are considered harassment.

Imagine a situation where a boss verbally mistreats an employee and then fires them for reporting the mistreatment to human resource management (HR).

Even if the mistreatment doesn’t include unfair treatment based on certain factors, it could still be a wrongful termination.


Employees who speak up against illegal stuff happening at work are known as whistleblowers.

There are laws put up to shield them from being fired or mistreated for doing the right thing.

For instance, if someone reports unfair practices or shows proof of company misbehavior and gets fired in return, that could be a case of wrongful termination.


This happens when your boss fires you for standing up against illegal actions, helping with investigations, or exercising your legal rights.

Picture this: you raise concerns about your work conditions to HR, and suddenly, you find yourself jobless.

This is wrongful termination and it often ties in with other issues like harassment or discrimination.

6.Violations of public policy

Wrongful termination based on violations of public policy occurs when an employee is fired for reasons deemed unacceptable by society or protected by federal laws.

These situations resemble discrimination, involving factors such as race, age, sexual orientation, and other protected categories.

An image illustration of How to explain wrongful termination in an interview
How to explain Wrongful Termination in an interview
Source: (miro.medium)


Explaining Wrongful Termination in an Interview

Discussing your termination with a new employer might be challenging, even if your previous employer was at fault.

It’s crucial to handle the conversation with care.

Here are some tips on how to go about it.

When discussing your wrongful termination:

  1. Clearly explain the situation.
  2. Be open and transparent without accusing.
  3. Share enough details but avoid unnecessary information.
  4. You can simply say it was time to move on.
  5. Represent yourself positively; avoid blaming others.
  6. Don’t speak negatively about your former employer.
  7. Briefly mention the cause of termination, focusing on what you learned and your positive qualities.


When interviewing for a new job, it’s crucial to be brief, honest, and clear about the reasons for your termination.

Shift the focus to your suitability for the new position, as employers are more interested in your qualifications than the details of your past dismissal.

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