Can My Employer Fire Me for Any Reason?

If you are an employee in the State of New York, you may wonder if your employer can fire you for any reason. The short answer is, yes. New York State is an "employment-at-will," state.   This means that as long as there is no contract to restrict firing (like a collective bargaining agreement), an employer has the right to terminate an employee at any time for any reason. However, this also protects the employee's right to resign. So, although an employer may fire you for no reason or for a reason that might seem arbitrary and unfair, you are free to resign at any time without explanation.

Please note that there are a few exceptions to the "employment-at-will" doctrine, the most significant of which are federal and state laws that prohibit discrimination (or discriminatory employment termination) based on things like race, national origin, age, disability, gender, sexual orientation or marital status.

There are also exceptions to the "employment-at-will" doctrine under § 201-d and § 215 of the New York State Labor Law.  Essentially these sections prohibit an employer from firing an employee for engaging in political or recreational activities outside of work, for the legal use of consumable products outside of work or for membership in a union and also prohibit an employer from penalizing an employee for making a complaint to the employer, to the Commissioner of Labor, or to the Commissioner's representative, about any provision of the Labor Law.

For more information, please visit the NY Department of Labor's website here.

The short answer to the question of "can my employer fire me for any reason" is yes, but you should definitely talk to an employment lawyer. If you have any questions about your employment or termination, please contact us!