How Labor and Employment Laws Affect Employee Termination Decisions?

When an employee is no longer a good fit for a company or when the company needs to make cuts to stay afloat, it may be necessary to terminate that employee. However, many laws and regulations affect decision-making when it comes time to let someone go.  


Depending on the circumstances, certain termination decisions could result in a lawsuit. We will explore some of the key factors to consider before making a termination decision.


At-will Employment

Many states have laws that allow employees to be terminated at any time and for any reason. This is known as "at-will" employment. Under at-will employment, an employer does not need to have a good or valid reason for terminating an employee. However, there are some exceptions to this rule. For example, an employee cannot be terminated for an illegal reason, such as discrimination based on race, gender, or religion. Additionally, an employee cannot be terminated if they have an employment contract that states otherwise.  

If you live in a state with at-will employment laws, then you may be able to terminate an employee without having to provide a reason. However, it is always best to consult with an attorney beforehand to ensure that you are following all applicable laws and regulations.


Employment Contracts  

If an employee has an employment contract, then the terms of that contract will likely govern the termination process. Employment contracts can be either written or verbal. However, it is generally best to have a written contract so that there is no confusion about the terms of the agreement.  


An employment contract should spell out the expectations of both the employer and the employee. It should also outline what would happen in the event of a termination. For example, the contract may state that the employee must be given a certain amount of notice before being terminated. Alternatively, the contract may state that the employee can only be terminated for cause. If you plan on terminating an employee who has an employment contract, it is important to review the contract carefully to ensure that you are in compliance with its terms.  


How Do These Laws Affect Employee Termination Decisions?

Labor and employment laws in the United States are federal and state statutes that regulate the rights and duties of employers and employees. These laws affect everything from hiring and firing to wage and hour regulations and can significantly impact an employer's ability to terminate an employee.

When an employer decides to terminate an employee, they must first consider whether the termination will violate any labor or employment laws. If the termination does violate a law, the employer could be liable for damages, including back pay, reinstatement, and punitive damages.

The most important labor and employment law in the United States is the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA). The NLRA protects employees' rights to form unions and engage in collective bargaining. It also prohibits employers from terminating employees for engaging in protected activities, such as filing a grievance or participating in a strike.


The NLRA does not protect employees from being terminated for other reasons, such as poor performance or misconduct. Employers must have a legitimate business reason to terminate an employee without violating the NLRA.

Other important labor and employment laws include the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), which sets standards for minimum wage, recordkeeping, and overtime pay. The Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) prohibits employers from discriminating against employees over 40.

When an employer is considering terminating an employee, they must weigh the risks and benefits of doing so in light of these and other labor and employment laws.  

It is always best to consult an experienced labor and employment attorney before deciding to terminate an employee. An attorney can help you understand your rights and obligations under the law and assist you in making the best decision for your business.


Consequences Of Violating Labor or Employment Law When Terminating an Employee

When an employer violates labor or employment law when terminating an employee, they may be subject to legal consequences. This could include liability for damages, back pay, and reinstatement of the employee. Sometimes, the employer may also be required to pay the employee's attorney's fees. If the employer is a government entity, they may also be subject to civil rights claims. Additionally, the employer may be required to change its policies and procedures to comply with the law.


How Long Is the Process of Terminating an Employee?

In most cases, terminating an employee is not something that can be done overnight. Several steps must be taken to ensure the termination is handled legally and correctly. First, the employer will need to gather relevant documentation, such as performance reviews or warning letters. Next, the employer will need to meet with the employee to discuss the reasons for the termination. In some cases, the employee may be given a chance to improve their performance or correct any issues that led to the decision to terminate their employment.

However, if the decision has been made to proceed with the termination, the employer will need to provide the employee with written notice of their termination. This notice should include information on any severance pay or benefits the employee is entitled to receive. Finally, the employer will need to remove the employee from their payroll and cancel any health insurance or other benefits they were receiving. While terminating an employee can be time-consuming, it is essential to ensure that all of these steps are followed to avoid legal complications.  


Can An Employee Fight Termination?

Yes, an employee can fight termination. First, the employee should request a meeting with their supervisor to discuss the situation. They should bring any documentation or evidence they have to support their case. It is essential to be professional and polite during this meeting.  

The employee should state their side of the story and try to come to a resolution. If the supervisor is unwilling to listen or budge, the employee can escalate the situation by speaking to Human Resources or their manager. The employee can consult with an attorney if there is still no resolution. An attorney will be able to advise them of their legal options and help them determine if they have a case for wrongful termination.


When deciding whether to terminate an employee, employers must consider a variety of different factors. The most important factor to consider is whether the termination decision would violate any federal or state laws. If you are unsure about whether a particular termination decision would violate the law, you should consult with an attorney.

Disclaimer: This material is provided for informational purposes only. The provision of this material does not create an attorney-client relationship between the firm and the reader and does not constitute legal advice. Legal advice must be tailored to the specific circumstances of each case, and the contents of this newsletter are not a substitute for legal counsel. Do not take action in reliance on the contents of this material without seeking the advice of counsel.

The information contained in this blog may or may not reflect the most current legal developments. Accordingly, information in this blog is not promised or guaranteed to be correct or complete, and should not be relied upon as such. Readers should conduct their own appropriate legal research.

6521 N. 10th Street, Ste. A — McAllen, TX 78504
+1 956 567 7777