Thank you for using JustAnswer!
Do the employees have a written employment agreement or contract with their employer?
One is not a "whistleblower" in the legal sense for reporting something to HR. Rather, the law only considers a person to be a "whistleblower" when the person reports a suspect violation of law to a government agency. Because the facts you describe do not suggest that any employee filed a complaint with an outside government agency, this is not a "whistleblower" matter.
As you previously indicated, the employees are "at will". This means that you could quit your job at any time and there's nothing your employer could do about it.
That also means the reverse is true: your employer could terminate you at any time and for any reason (so long as it wasn't because of your race, age, gender, disability, national origin, etc.) and there isn't a darn thing you can do about it.
An employer may dismiss an employee at any time for any reason; a good reason, a bad reason, or for no reason at all.
Now, does that seem to be unfair or unjust? You bet it does. However, it is not illegal. That is the very nature of "at-will" employment. You serve "at the will" (or whim?) of the employer.
Of course different people can disagree as to whether or not the punishment fit the alleged wrong in the situation of your former employees. But, because they're an at-will employee, the employer doesn't have to even go there.
They could have been fired because the employer didn't like which hand they used to lift their coffee cup.
They could have been fired because the employer didn't like the shade of green socks the employee wore to work. They could do this because the employees were "at-will".
Good luck and best wishes for better days ahead. I hope that you find this information to be helpful in better understanding where your former employees stand and why. I also hope that you find this answer to be ACCEPTable!
DISCLAIMER: Answers from Experts on JustAnswer are not substitutes for the advice of an attorney. JustAnswer is a public forum and questions and responses are not private or confidential or protected by the attorney-client privilege. The Expert above is not your attorney, and the response above is not legal advice. You should not read this response to propose specific action or address specific circumstances, but only to give you a sense of general principles of law that might affect the situation you describe. Application of these general principles to particular circumstances must be done by a lawyer who has spoken with you in confidence, learned all relevant information, and explored various options. Before acting on these general principles, you should hire a lawyer licensed to practice law in the jurisdiction to which your question pertains.
The responses above are from individual Experts, not JustAnswer. The site and services are provided “as is”. To view the verified credential of an Expert, click on the “Verified” symbol in the Expert’s profile. This site is not for emergency questions which should be directed immediately by telephone or in-person to qualified professionals. Please carefully read the Terms of Service (last updated February 8, 2012).