General Question

SirBailey's avatar

What can you NOT be fired for in "At Will" states?

Asked by SirBailey (3130points) June 3rd, 2009

Even in “At Will” states such as New York, where the employer can fire the employee at will, there are some reasons you can NOT be fired for. Discrimination is one, reporting sexual harassment is another…what else?

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9 Answers

jeffgoldblumsprivatefacilities's avatar

Nothing, you can be fired for pretty much anything, completely at the employers whim. The only exception is in cases of unlawful discrimination.

SirBailey's avatar

Not true. You can’t be fired for reporting sexual harassment. What else?

Supacase's avatar

The answer varies by state. Some things include the refusal to commit an illegal act, taking family medical leave, good faith/just cause, and an implied contract (the handbook states there is a procedure like a verbal warning, then written, etc. If that is not followed they can be said to have broken an implied contract).

The last two are hard to prove and apparently the burden of proof is on the fired employee; I’m sure many employers don’t think employees will pursue it due to time and money.

BTW, this was the first google result under firing at will exception if you want more detail.

SirBailey's avatar

@Supacase, “implied contract”? That might be something a Union Delegate would make the case for but the employer will say the employee’s actions warranted immediate dismissal.

Interesting Wiki link. Thanks.

Supacase's avatar

@SirBailey If it is in the employee handbook that there is a certain prodecure for termination, then it is an implied contract. (Barring extreme situations such as stealing or sexual harrassment, I would think.) The company should have records signed by the employee of all warnings given. There could be a case made for it but, as I mentioned, it is difficult to prove.

Anyway, I’m no expert. That is just how I interpreted the bit of research I did.

Judi's avatar

Most “At Will” employers won’t give you a reason when they fire you. Once they give you a reason, they have to justify it.
There are protected classes. This was taken from a quick google search of protected classes. Some may only apply to California:
Protected Classes
Various federal and state Equal Employment Opportunity (DFEH) laws govern discrimination and harassment. The various laws create what are known as “protected classes.” If a person is in a “protected class” and is treated differently because of his or her membership in that class, then the treatment violates these laws. “Protected classes” created by these laws include gender, race/color, national origin, religion, age and disability. It also prohibits retaliation.

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits discrimination in employment on the basis of race/color, gender, national origin and religion. Sexual harassment is a form of gender discrimination. Harassment on the basis of race/color, national origin or religion is also a prohibited form of discrimination under the act.

The Americans with Disability Act (ADA) prohibits employment discrimination and harassment on the basis of the disability.

The Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) prohibits age discrimination in employment. It also prohibits harassment on the basis of age.

In California, the Department of Fair Employment and Housing (FEHA) protects the people of California from unlawful discrimination in employment, housing and public accommodations, and from the perpetration of such acts of hate violence.

The California Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) provides protection from harassment or discrimination in employment because of age, ancestry, color, religious creed, denial of family and medical care leave, disability (mental and physical) including HIV and AIDS, marital status, medical condition, national origin, race, religion, sex and sexual orientation.


CMaz's avatar

Here in Florida, a right to work state. You can be fired for anything and not give an explanation or have a reason. Also. let’s say you were making $15 an hour. But your last paycheck shows $8 an hour. Nothing you can do about that either. As long as you are making the Minimum wage. I got that information directly from the state.

Judi's avatar

@ChazMaz ; The state may not do anything about it, but I bet you would prevail in court. If you quit working because of it, take them to small claims for the balance. I’m sure you would win there! It’s a breach of contract and not under the labor boards enforcement arena. It is a civil matter.

CMaz's avatar

That is true. But just like employers that try to keep you from getting un-employment or workman’s comp. They are hoping that the time, effort and money needed to chase after them. WIll prevent you from doing just that. Workman’s comp is notorious for doing that to people.

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