Wrongful Termination: Can a Company Fire You Without Warning?

termination concept

A workplace should be a peaceful place where an employer and employee share goals. It is a two-way street where both parties should be happy and satisfied. Employees must complete tasks and in a quality manner. Punctuality and professionalism are values that everyone must show. Meanwhile, leaders and bosses have to supervise the performance of each employee. They give constructive feedback and make sure to answer important questions.

It is rare to find a perfect workplace. Thus, some employees resign. In some situations, the boss may sack them as they may not have delivered a project’s expected output. When employees resign, the office will require them to give two weeks’ notice before the administration terminates the contract.

But when things really go wrong, can the boss fire you without warning?

Employees in an ‘At-Will’ Type of Employment

The answer to this question relies on the type of employment contract you have signed up with the employer. Employees who signed up for an at-will employment contract may be terminated without warning. ‘At-will’ employment is different from an employment arrangement as the latter has an employment contract that stipulates certain rights that protect an employer and employee. When in an ‘at-will’ employment, employers don’t need a just reason for terminating an employee.

Employees at an ‘at-will’ contract can also quit anytime without further reason or advance notice. However, rules in this contract are still subjected to scrutiny and investigation in court. Proper procedures of termination may also vary in each state. Thus, one can research regulations on these matters if s/he wants to defend themselves in a case involving termination without notice.

There are instances when a state will provide additional protection for an employee so that the latter may not be fired easily. The hired employment attorney may use this reason to defend his client.

Meanwhile, some reasons may be grounds for illegal termination in an ‘at-will’ type of employment.

Discrimination

A termination in an ‘at-will’ employment is considered illegal when using reasons that may be discriminating against employees. Discrimination may be in the form of judgment according to the employee’s class, affiliation, race, national origin, sex, religion, age, disability, and pregnancy. Terminating because of one’s sexual orientation or gender identity is also considered illegal.

Retaliation

If the termination took place after an employee reports an employer for a violation, it could be considered illegal.

Violation of Public Policy

Even in an ‘at-will’ employment, employers may not be able to fire somebody if they belong to a recognized or political party. It is also illegal for employers to terminate employees when they are filing for a compensation claim.

Considerations Showing A Breach of Good Faith And Fair Dealing

In a case dealing with illegal termination, the court considers these factors to determine if the claim is a breach of good faith and fair dealing:

  • When an employee is fired or transferred to another department so that they will not have the chance to collect any sales commissions
  • When an employer misleads employees about opportunities that may give them a promotion or wage increase
  • Not revealing the reason for the employment termination, especially when the court proves later on that the real reason is to replace the employee with another one who accepts lower wages
  • Not giving information in advance to the employee about the negative aspects of the contract they have signed up for.

Warning Signs of Termination

landlord and tenant having conflict

There are warning signs of termination that an employee should be aware of. This is to prepare them for negative consequences that may happen later on. Workplaces may differ from each other. However, there are cautionary signals that one may be aware of to avoid losing work.

  • The management’s low evaluation scores for the work or output
  • Documented situations when one violates a company rule and getting disciplinary action because of it
  • Being excluded from meetings and projects that you normally participate in
  • Being demoted from responsibilities and receiving less work after that
  • The boss canceling one-on-one meetings frequently.
  • Not doing enough to meet goals and expectations of one’s role.

Termination from one’s job may be a catastrophic, traumatic event, but one must cope with it and handle it with a game plan to help one move on from the current situation. If are experience such loss, consider investigating it. Ask your employers the right questions to learn from it and avoid the same mistakes in your next job. Negotiate the terms of your departure and ask about your health insurance, if there is any.

Consider checking if you are illegible to receive unemployment benefits. If you get fired because of not having the right skills for the job, the company may send you off with some unemployment benefits that you can use while looking for a new job. Lastly, don’t be scared to ask for help from friends and other people in your network. They may recommend you a better job or share better tips to compete well in the job market again.

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