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Does an Employer Have to Provide Notice of Termination?

In most cases, when a person is terminated from their job, they first receive a written notice. This is a document from an employer that informs the individual that they’re being laid off from their job or their position is being terminated. The notice can state any number of reasons, including poor performance, chronic lateness, insubordination, downsizing, corporate closures, and many others.

Unfortunately, in some situations a person may be terminated without getting any kind of notice. The employee is left to wonder if the termination was fair, since they received no documentation about the cause and no clear reason was given for the decision. That may leave the individual wondering if it’s legal to terminate their employment without official documentation. 

The answer is that generally, it is legal in most cases. 

Is an Employer Required to Provide a Notice of Termination? 

The majority of Americans are at-will employees. At-will means that the employee-employer relationship can end at any time, and the employer can terminate the individual for any reason — or no reason at all — as long as it’s within legal grounds and not a discriminatory practice. Likewise, an employee can leave their job without providing a reason. While it’s considered courteous and professional to give two weeks’ notice when quitting a job, workers are not obligated to do so.

An employer can offer any reason for terminating a worker, whether the individual is simply not good at their job or if the company is downsizing. Discriminating against an employee, however, is illegal. Examples of discriminatory practices include terminating workers for their race, religion, sexual orientation or political affiliation. However, there is no federal law requiring employers to provide a notification of termination to employees they let go.

Regardless, many employers still give a written notice. In most instances, employers do this when workers are being given layoff notices. The employer pays the workers through the current pay period and often will give them a severance package as well. They can even do the same for employees they’re firing for cause, if they so choose. Overall, one of the key reasons for this is to avoid a potential lawsuit from a former employee. 

What is Wrongful Termination? 

Sometimes, a worker may be wrongfully terminated by an employer. This is against the law, and a termination can be considered illegal for one of the following reasons: 

  • Breach of contract, where an agreement was not honored by the employer
  • Constructive discharge, where an employee quits as a result of intolerable working conditions
  • Discrimination
  • Situations where the employee was asked to perform an illegal act
  • Violation of company policy
  • Violation of public policy
  • Retaliation for whistleblowing 

A person who believes they have been wrongfully terminated should immediately consult with an attorney. They can get more information and determine whether they have a case. If so, it’s wise to file a charge with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

Denver Employment Lawyer Offers Help to Employees 

For more than 55 years, Denver employment discrimination lawyer Nathan Davidovich has been serving employees with expert and thorough legal counsel and representation in labor and employment related issues. His team specializes in all aspects of employment law, from wrongful termination to a hostile work environment, to medical leave disputes. If you need assistance on an employment case, start by calling the Davidovich Law Firm at (303) 825-5529 today, or complete our online contact form.