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Does my employer have to give me a reason for firing me?

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for above-the-bar-logo-no12.jpgAside from a few exceptions set forth below, your employer can fire you for any reason, no reason, or even unfair reasons at any time. Under this doctrine of “employment at will,” you can also quit at any time without having to give a reason.

In terminating your employment, your employer may not violate any state or federal laws, collective bargaining agreements or any employment agreements. Although your employer can fire you for no reason, he may not fire you for a prohibited illegal reason. For example, discrimination based on race, gender, pregnancy, national origin, age, disability, retaliation and sexual orientation is illegal under both New York State Law and Federal Law. For example, your employer cannot fire you because he or she feels you are now too old and wants to replace you with a younger worker and a workforce that has more “energy.” Similarly, your employer cannot discharge you because he or she just learned that you are homosexual or lesbian and wants only “straight” employees. In many cases, it is not obvious that your employer is discharging you for an illegal discriminatory reason. An employer will not state that you are being terminated because you are woman or some other member of a protected class. Our skilled employment law attorneys are familiar with the fact patterns and scenarios involving illegal workplace terminations. If you suspect that your employer has terminated your employment based on discriminatory reasons, one of our experienced Employment Discrimination attorneys will work with you to determine if you have a potential employment law claim. Our attorneys have helped thousands of employees with workplace discrimination, harassment, wrongful terminations and other disputes.

Another exception to the at will employment doctrine is New York Labor Law Sections 740 and 741, New Jersey Conscientious Employee Protection Act and Connecticut General Statute Section 33-1336, which protect you if you are fired for “whistleblowing” about employer committing specific illegal activities. For example, under New York State Labor Law Section, your boss may not fire you if you reported a violation of law that causes a substantial and specific danger to public health and safety. However, you must have brought this to your supervisor’s attention and given him or her a reasonable opportunity to correct the wrongdoing before complaining to a public agency. The New Jersey State Statute CEPA is more broad and generally affords greater protections to employees. If you have complained about a Labor Law violation and were subsequently terminated, talk to one of our experienced Labor and Employment Law Attorneys at (800) 893-9645 to determine if you have a claim for unlawful retaliation.


Thank you for visiting our Blog. This blog provides general information and thoughts about various employment law issues primarily in the New York Tri-State area and occasionally in other areas. You are welcome to read the posts. However, do not construe any content on this blog as legal advice or the creation of an attorney-client relationship. Again, we provide the content only for informational purposes. You should not make decisions based information on our blog since the application of the law depends on the facts and each situation may be different. In addition, the law in most jurisdictions is different and changes constantly and we make no representations that any information on our blog has been updated. The Blog should not be used as a substitute for competent legal advice from an experienced employment law attorney in your state or jurisdiction.

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