Our firm receives dozens of calls per week from people who were terminated from their job. Whenever people call we always ask, “Why did your company fire you?” While we receive a variety of answers, we do hear some of the same reasons over and over. So I figure it would be best to give a brief description of the top 3 excuses employers give to employees when they fire them. Here they are in no particular order.
1. At-Will Employment
Pretty much every single one of our clients is told that they are being terminated because they are an at-will employee and they can be fired for any reason whatsoever. This is not entirely true. Here is the truth: unless there is an agreement stating otherwise, an employer may terminate an employee at any time, with or without notice, and for any lawful reason. In other words, while an at-will employee can be treated badly and unfairly and can essentially be fired any reason, an at-will employee cannot be fired for a reason that violates California or Federal law.
Most employees do not know the intricacies of employment law. Thus, employers tend to use this excuse in an effort to scare the employee from seeking legal recourse. But, if an employee is fired for a reason that is a violation of law, then that employee may have a lawsuit. At the end of the day an employer cannot fire an employee for any reason whatsoever.
2. “It just isn’t a fit anymore.”
We have heard from countless potential clients that they were let go because “it just wasn’t a fit anymore.” And a lot of the times, these employees who are “no longer a fit” were working there for several years if not most of their lives. While an employee can be fired because they are no longer a fit at the company, often times such a reason is used as a pretext for an unlawful reason.
For example, we had a potential client call us a while ago who was over 60 years old and was working for the employer for pretty much his entire life. One day, he was randomly called into the office and fired because “it just wasn’t a fit anymore.” He was shocked. After almost three decades of service, they let him go because it wasn’t a fit!? Soon after he was terminated, he was replaced by a much younger employee. From those facts alone, we could infer that he was fired, not because it was not a fit anymore, but because the employer wanted to get rid of the old guy for the younger guy. If you were fired, after years of dedicated service, because “it just isn’t a fit anymore,” and you feel there is another unlawful reason behind it, call an employment lawyer to see if you have a case.
3. Poor Performance
There is no question that it is completely lawful fire an employee for poor performance. That is a completely valid reason if it is true. A lot of times, employers will claim the employee performed poorly, when in fact it is a fake excuse. We see time and time again an employee who all of a sudden is written up multiple times arbitrarily and then finally fired for poor job performance. Sometimes this is nothing but a cover up for an unlawful reason.
For example, a nurse is employed with a hospital for some time. At some point during her employment she begins reporting violations of patient safety. After making such complaints regarding violations of law, her employer begins to write her up and reprimand her for her “attitude” and “being two minutes late.” Then all of a sudden she is fired for “poor job performance.” Arguably, the hospital fired the nurse because she complained about patient safety complaints, yet made up arbitrary and random reasons to fire her.
Obviously, we have heard many more reasons other than these three. But the above three reasons are some of the most common reasons we hear employers give employees for termination. If you were fired and you feel there was something unlawful or wrong in the way it happened, contact an employment lawyer to get a free consultation.