April 13, 2018 – Believe it or not, your boss can fire you for virtually any reason at all, or for no reason at all, if you are an employee-at-will. There’s a common misconception out there that your boss is legally required to give you warnings or notice, but that just isn’t the case. Your supervisor could decide that they don’t like the color of your shoes and send you packing. Or they could let you go because you’re a Yankees fan, even if you’ve been the hardest working employee for 30+ years.
The major exception to employment at will is that you can’t be fired for an illegal reason. Namely this includes for a discriminatory reason (based on race, gender identity/expression, religion, criminal record, age, and more), a retaliatory reason (because you spoke out against an illegal practice or filed a complaint), were doing your civic duty (jury duty), and a few more.
But outside of those your supervisor can just change their mind out of nowhere and decide that they don’t want you there anymore. Although a mean thing to do, and certainly not a good one for company morale, unless it can be shown that it was due to an illegal reason, your employer has the legal right to let you go.
Employment at will is extremely widespread across the country. Generally unless you’re in a union or you signed a contract with an end date on it when you were hired, your employment is considered at will.
It works both ways however: as an employee you can just quit without warning or reason. Now, giving at least 2 weeks is common courtesy and makes you more likely to get a good recommendation moving forward, but it isn’t against the law to just call it quits.
If you feel that you were fired for a discriminatory reason, or are experience adverse treatment at work because of who you are, you can look into filing a complaint with the Massachusetts Commission against Discrimination (MCAD).
Furthermore, if you want to take your employer to court to hold them accountable or you just have some preliminary questions, call the Boston Bar Association’s Lawyer Referral Service at 617-742-0625 or contact us here. We’re eager to connect you with an experienced and knowledgeable attorney today!