Being fired without warning is certainly very jarring. It could be as simple as waking up in the morning and discovering that you no longer have access to your company email account. Or, if you work in an office, you could be called in to see your boss and informed that it is going to be your last day.
This does feel unfair when it happens because you didn’t have any time to plan. Companies will often ask employees to give two weeks’ notice, but they do not provide that notice themselves. Is it legal for them to treat their employees this way?
Are you an at-will employee?
Under at-will employment laws, this type of action by a company is legal. They are allowed to terminate employment at any time and for any reason, as long as that reason is not illegal. They don’t even necessarily have to have a reason at all. They simply cannot fire someone based on a protected class like race, religion, gender or something of that nature. But there’s no requirement to prove fault or cause.
If you have a contract, on the other hand, then your termination may be illegal if it was not for cause and if you were not given a certain amount of notification. But that will just depend on the terms laid out in your contract. Most employees do not have contracts and simply work under at-will employment laws, meaning they can quit or be fired at any time.
What comes next
If you do believe that your employer has taken advantage of you or violated your rights in some way, then you may want to begin looking into your legal options.