In a nutshell, it is not illegal to get fired without notice. When it comes to establishing the legality, there are certain aspects that must be taken into consideration. Usually, when companies hire new employees, it depends on business needs and whether this employee would work full time, part-time, seasonally, or on a contract basis. Furthermore, new hires typically receive a contract that they must sign which explains job functions and particulars for termination.
Most contracts explicitly state that employees are considered at will. An at-will employee can be terminated by the company at any time, with or without cause or advanced notice under applicable law. The company that hires you also reserves the right to modify or amend the terms of your employment at any time for any reason. The contract may also explain that although your job duties, title, compensation, and benefits, as well as the company’s personnel policies and procedures, may change from time to time, the “at will” nature of your employment may only be changed by completing a certain task like an express written agreement signed by you and the company’s board of directors.
On the contrary, at-will employees can also quit without a reason and with or without notice. Both parties (employer and employee) are subject to the same privilege under at-will. It is crucial to understand that the laws governing each state are different. There is a proper procedure upheld by each state that determines grounds for termination from employment and therefore, it is vital to research the regulations in your local state. Your state may provide additional protection and rights for an employee who got fired without notice. This will prove beneficial when it comes to ascertaining your termination. All of these factors have to be taken into account when it comes to termination. The bottom line is your employer does not need a valid reason or excuse to fire you if you are an at-will employee. However, there are contrasting terms for employees who are under contract.
Let’s say that you are under a written contract with an employer for a specific time frame. Your contract expresses that you will have job security, receive adequate pay and that you are required to fulfill your job duties between those dates as stated. If this is the case, you may not be considered an at-will employee especially if the contract does not explicitly include an at-will clause. Consequently, the employer must uphold the terms of the contract which declares that you will fulfill your job duties throughout the duration of your contract and receive the agreed-upon compensation. It would be illegal to get fired before the terms of the contract are met. It is important to note that the terms must be completed by both parties and the employee must in fact perform their job duties.
Employers can discharge employees for a variety of reasons but one thing is clear, it is not illegal to get fired without cause. However, it becomes tricky when there is an ongoing case of harassment or a wrongful termination case confirmed against your employer. This may be a cause for investigation by an expert employment law attorney. Assuming your employer has breached the terms of the contract, you may want to consider these points when building your case:
- Misleading employees regarding promises of pay increase and opportunities of promotion but failure to deliver can be evaluated by the court to determine if there has been a violation of good faith.
- Terminating or transferring employees to avoid paying bonuses, overtime, or sales commissions can result in unjust treatment and increased chances of approval in court.
- Conspiring against employees because of personal reasons such as hate or jealousy or plans to hire someone who will accept less pay can hold up in court especially when the incident is documented or witnessed by a coworker who can back up those claims.
- Lack of transparency concerning job duties, responsibilities, and any other potentially negative aspects of the job can also prove to be grounds to pursue your employer for breaking good faith and failure to uphold the terms of your contract.
Although, these instances have little to no effect on the decision of your state to recognize these factors for an at-will employee.