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Can an Employee be Fired for No Reason?

meetingroomLet’s face it – getting fired is awful. During surveys or interviews asking average Americans to report their most challenging life obstacles, getting fired almost always ranks in the top.  With the economy on shaky ground since 2008, all across the country, employees tend to worry about being fired.  Obviously, an employer can let go of their employees for various reasons like violating company policies, poor performance or budget cuts. However, sometimes an employer will fire you without giving you any reason whatsoever and this may be within what they are legally allowed to do.  For employees who have been victims of a termination, they often wonder to themselves, can an employee be fired for no reason?

Employment is Often “At-Will”

Generally, the employee-employer relationship is one that is considered “at-will,” meaning, the employee is employed as an employee at the “will” of the employer – essentially standing for the proposition that the employer owes the employee nothing and can fire them at any time for any reason.  That is the sad reality. In an at-will state, it is allowed for either employers or employees to terminate their work relationship for any reason or for no reason at all.  Although, you may demand a reason since it’s only human to want to know why and have some closure, your employer actually does not have to give you a reason. If they do give you a reason, however, that reason cannot be unlawful and it cannot be violate some public policy or contractual relationship.

Was Your Termination Truly “For No Reason” – Or For a Deeper Reason

One of the things employees who have been let go for no reason should be asking is, were they really let go “for no reason at all,” or is there a deeper reason for the termination that the employer may not want to bring up or discuss.


It is illegal for an employer to fire you based on discriminatory reasons where they fire you based on you belonging to a particular protected group. These include being fired based on your age, race, gender, disability, or religion. Such action is not acceptable and illegal. Being fired for this reason, even when in an at-will employment situation, is wrong and unlawful.


Employers cannot fire an employee in response to a legally protected activity such as in response to you filing a sexual harassment or discrimination claim against them, taking medical leave, or whistle-blowing on the company. If because of your claim, your employer responds by firing you, you may have a claim for retaliation against them.

Violation of Contractual Rights

The firing of an employee who is under contract for a specific period of time cannot be fired for any reason or no reason either. That would be a violation of his or her contract and could be enforced in a court of law. Since there is a contract, the employer could fire the employee for a reason such as a violation expressly under their contract or reasonably implied. This is a two-way street and when there is a valid contract, it is important to understand the drafting and ramifications of the contract for all parties involved.


Violation of Public Policy

There are several reasons that if an employer were allowed to fire you for no reason, could be bad for society. Commonly they include discrimination and retaliation. Both federal and state laws specify types of discrimination that are expressly prohibited as reasons for firing an employee.  An employer cannot fire an employee if they apply for worker’s compensation or for reporting the employer’s violations of law. Generally, firing based on an employee’s race, national origin, sex, or disabilities are prohibited. Even if the employer gives no reason, facts surrounding the firing may lead to a judge coming up with different conclusion and if it is based on a discriminatory reason, the employer can risk potentially violating public policy and face serious consequences.

Violation of Law

If there is a special law that is violated when an employer fires an employee that is otherwise legitimate, then it is wrongfully termination. An example is the Family and Medical Leave Act. This federal law provides protection for specific employees who are on a qualified medical leave from their job from getting fired during that protected time period. Persons taking a leave of absence from work under this law for medical related needs of themselves or a family member cannot be fired even for no reason.


Getting Legal Help


The federal and state laws involving employee rights are complicated and your options widely vary based on your unique situation. If you are struggling with a potentially wrongful termination, give AXIS Legal Counsel a call for a free no-risk and no-charge consultation. We keep client consultations 100% confidential and in as little as 15 minutes, you could speak with an experienced labor and employment attorney and get an overview of your legal rights.

readreviewssgAXIS Legal Counsel is an employment law firm representing clients in numerous kinds of lawsuits and disputes involving some of the nation’s largest employers. Whether it is sexual harassment, other kinds of harassment, discrimination, race discrimination, pregnancy discrimination, medical/disability discrimination, racial harassment, retaliation, hostile work environment, wage/hour, workplace bullying, or other claims, AXIS Legal Counsel is experienced in the field of employment and labor law and focused on providing high-quality legal service.

For information on retaining AXIS Legal Counsel to represent you or a loved one with an employee rights’ claim, contact [email protected] or call (213) 403-0130 for a confidential consultation, or visit our Employee Rights Practice or Individual Rights portal. AXIS is a Los Angeles, California law firm that provides victims of labor and employment law violations with aggressive representation to pursue the maximum extent of their rights.


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