In New York, as in most states, unless an employee has an employment contract
that says they are something other than an employee at will
, an employee has few rights. By default an employee is at-will. An at-will employee may be terminated for any reason or for no reason at all. The employer does not have to have good cause to terminate an employee. The employer can have a bad reason for terminating an employee, so long as it is not an ILLEGAL reason.
So, let's look at what might constitute an illegal reason. Under federal law, an employer may generally not terminate an employee for reasons such as the employee's age (40 and over), color, disability, nationality, race, regligion, or sex. Such discrimination
may be illegal if the employer is of a sufficient size (employs enough workers). The minimum size at which an employer can be liable varies from one statute to another. There are also state statutes which similarly protect people from illegal discrimination, and the required size of employer varies with these also.
This New York State Department of Labor website
explains the law in greater detail. Key points from that site are:
"Q: Can an employee be fired without due cause?
A: Yes. New York State is an "employment-at-will," state. Without a contract restricting termination (such as a collective bargaining agreement) an employer has the right to discharge an employee at any time for any reason. This also protects the employee's right to resign. An employer may fire an employee for "no reason" - or even for a reason that might seem arbitrary and unfair -- and the employee is equally free to quit at any time without being required to explain or defend that decision.
There are a few exceptions to "employment-at-will." The most significant of these are laws, enforced by the New York State Division of Human Rights, which prohibit discrimination based upon race, creed, national origin, age, handicap, gender, sexual orientation or marital status. For additional information about how the New York State Division of Human Rights proceeds against unlawful forms of discrimination, go to:
www.nysdhr.com. Other exceptions to the doctrine of "employment-at-will" exist under § 201-d and § 215 of the New York State Labor Law. Section 201-d prohibits an employer from firing an employee for political or recreational activities outside of work, for legal use of consumable products outside of work, or for membership in a union. Section 215 prescribes that no employer shall penalize any 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. Violation of § 215, can bring a civil fine and separate civil action by the employee"
If you believe that any of these scenarios applies to you, I will be happy to discuss them further.
I will be happy to clarify my answer if you need me to do so. If not, please click ACCEPT. I do not get paid for my work unless you click ACCEPT. Like you, I cannot work for free.
Your positive feedback wins me points and costs you but a moment of time. A "bonus" awards me for an especially good job.
Next time you visit Just Answer, please ask for me by name by starting your question with "For Cowgirl Lawyer."
Good luck and best wishes!
Cowgirl Lawyer IMPORTANT: I am not your attorney, and we do not have an attorney-client relationship.
I am not responsible for your legal rights. My function here is to provide education to the public so that people can understand the law. If you accept my answer, you are accepting educational information.
Please remember that this is a public forum
. Anything you discuss here is not protected by attorney-client privilege. Do not take any action or fail to take action based upon our discussion here. I am an experienced attorney licensed in Illinois, but I do not hold myself out as an "expert" in any area of law (Illinois does not recognize such attorney specializations). Any representation to the contrary by JustAnswer is in error. You should consult with an attorney in your area for specific advice relevant to your situation.