So maybe you got fired. Or maybe you know somebody who got fired. It’s likely that a notice of termination was supplied to the person being fired. This notice of termination is an official document, and it is simply a notification in writing from your place of employment or your employer that a certain employee’s employment is being terminated. The reasons for the termination are included in this notification and they can vary, from downsizing or corporate closure to more personal reasons like misconduct or even insubordination.
In the event that you didn’t actually receive any written notification of termination, you could be wondering whether such termination is legal. Unfortunately, termination without notifications is actually legal in most instances, but we’ll get into it more so you can fully understand it.
What Being Employed At-Will Means to the Employer and to the Employee
Most employees are employed at will, which means that the relationship between the employer and the employee can actually end for whatever reason or for no reason whatsoever, so long as the employee’s employment is not terminated for discriminatory reasons, which include anything related to gender, orientation, race or disability. Your employee can terminate your employment if they deem your performance poor if the company is downsizing or restructuring, or whatever else. On the employee’s part, being an at-will employee gives you the benefit of being able to quit your job any time you like to, sometimes with two weeks’ worth of notice, and in some cases no notice at all.
What Does the Law Say About Termination of Employment?
There is actually no federal law making it legally compulsory for employers to issue employees notice of termination or any kind of warning of their termination of employment. This applies unless an employee is under contract and there are clauses within the contract pertaining to the employment period. However, in spite of this fact, it is common courtesy for employers to actually issue such warnings or notifications and it is commonplace for it to be done, even though it isn’t stated in the law. Some employers are even so generous as to offer severance pays, even if it is not included in employee contracts. It really is at the discretion of the employer. Companies offer such pays even when not legally obligated to simply in the spirit of tradition or sometimes compassion, and sometimes in order to avoid lawsuits.
Why Do Companies Bother With Notice and Severance Pay, Then?
Further, it is in the best interest of the company to maintain its reputation as a just place of employment, especially if the termination of an employee is based on poor performance or issues related to such. Just like any other company, employers have a brand to uphold, and they ensure that it stays a positive one. Think of it this way, if you had the choice to work for a company that fires employees without notice, severance pay r even a warning, compared to a chance to work for a company that issues either warning of termination or notice of termination as well as severance pay, which one are you likely to choose? It’s an easy choice, really.
So we have established thus far that termination without issuing a notice of termination in and of itself is not actually against the law. However, circumstances do exist under which termination itself may actually be illegal. The labor law protects employees from the loss of a job by any of the following reasons: employer breach of contract, violation of company policy, violation of public policy, request of an employee to perform an illegal activity, discrimination of any kind, or constructive discharge. Should any of the mentioned situations apply to your termination of employment, you actually could have a legal course and may progress to take action against your employer. The first step is to consult with an employment attorney or a member of the department of labor affairs concerning the matter as soon as possible. Make sure you do not exceed the time constraints in place for you to lodge a complaint, as well.
While labor law is in place to protect the employee, on occasion, there is no way of you opening up a lawsuit or even taking any legal course whatsoever if your employment is terminated without notice. If you find that you happen to fall in this category, simply take a deep breath, and move on. Life has its hurdles, but some things are best left unsaid and un-interfered with. Don’t try to create a stir where there’s no reason or grounds, or you may harm future opportunities of employment or tarnish your reputation. Keep calm and get a new job!