What’s the Labor Law When You Fired an Employee?

If you’ve recently fired an employee, you may be wondering what the labor law is when it comes to their final paycheck. Here’s what you need to know.

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At-will employment

In the United States, employment law is generally governed by the at-will doctrine. This doctrine states that an employer can terminate an employee at any time, for any reason, with or without cause. There are a few exceptions to this rule, however, such as when an employee has an express contract that stipulates terms of employment. Other exceptions may apply if the termination violates public policy or if it is deemed to be discriminatory.

Exceptions to at-will employment

At-will employment is the default employment arrangement in the United States. This means that, in general, employees can be fired at any time for any reason or for no reason at all, with or without notice. However, there are exceptions to this rule.

There are three general categories of exceptions to at-will employment: public policy exceptions, contract exceptions, and statutory exceptions. Public policy exceptions prevent employers from firing employees for reasons that violate public policy. For example, an employer cannot fire an employee for reporting illegal activity or taking leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). Contract exceptions prevent employers from firing employees contrary to an agreement between the employer and employee. For example, if an employee has a contract that states they can only be fired for cause, the employer cannot fire the employee without cause. Statutory exceptions are laws that provide protections to employees against certain types of discrimination.

While at-will employment is still the default rule in most cases, it is important to be aware of the potential exceptions that may apply in your situation. If you have questions about whether you were wrongfully terminated, you should speak with an experienced employment law attorney in your area.

Wrongful termination

Wrongful termination occurs when an employee is fired for an illegal reason, such as discrimination or retaliation. If you’ve been wrongfully terminated, you may be able to file a lawsuit against your employer.

Constructive discharge

Constructive discharge occurs when an employee is forced to resign because of intolerable working conditions. It’s a form of wrongful termination, and it’s illegal. To prove constructive discharge, an employee must show that the employer breached the employment contract or created working conditions that were so difficult or unpleasant that a reasonable person would have felt compelled to resign.

Severance pay

When an employee is fired, they are entitled to severance pay. The amount of severance pay will depend on the length of time the employee has been with the company, as well as their position and salary. In general, severance pay is one week of pay for every year the employee has been with the company. For example, if an employee is fired after 10 years with the company, they would be entitled to 10 weeks of severance pay.

Unemployment compensation

When an employee is fired, they may be eligible for unemployment compensation. Unemployment compensation is a government-provided financial assistance program that helps workers who have lost their jobs due to no fault of their own. To be eligible for unemployment compensation, employees must meet certain criteria including being actively seeking employment and being available to work.


COBRA, or the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act, is a law that requires employer-sponsored group health plans to offer continuation coverage to employees (and their eligible dependents) who would otherwise lose coverage due to certain qualifying events. A qualifying event could include losing health coverage because you were fired from your job (voluntarily or involuntarily).

If you are eligible for COBRA continuation coverage, you may be required to pay the entire premium for the coverage (including any portion your employer previously paid). However, you may be entitled to a subsidy under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA). The ARRA provides a 65% subsidy for up to 9 months of COBRA premiums for eligible individuals who experience an involuntary termination of employment between September 1, 2008 and December 31, 2009.

Fair Labor Standards Act

The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) is a federal law that sets standards for minimum wage, overtime pay, record keeping, and child labor. These standards affect employees in both the private sector and in federal, state, and local governments. The FLSA is enforced by the Wage and Hour Division of the U.S. Department of Labor.

When an employee is fired, there are certain situations where he or she may be entitled to receive compensation for any unpaid wages or accrued vacation time. The laws governing these situations are complex, and your best course of action is to consult with an experienced employment law attorney.

Family and Medical Leave Act

The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) is a federal law that gives employees the right to take unpaid leave for certain reasons. The FMLA applies to employers with 50 or more employees, and employees must have worked for their employer for at least 12 months to be eligible. Under the FMLA, employees are entitled to take up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave per year for the following reasons:

-To care for a newborn child
-To care for a newly adopted or foster child
-To recover from a serious health condition
-To care for a spouse, child or parent with a serious health condition
-To deal with certain qualifying exigencies arising out of a family member’s military service

National Labor Relations Act

The National Labor Relations Act is the primary federal law governing private sector labor relations in the United States. The Act covers most private sector employers and employees, although there are a few exceptions (for example, agricultural workers and public sector employees are not covered).

Under the NLRA, employers and employees have certain rights and responsibilities with regard to union organizing, bargaining collectively, and engaging in other protected activity. For example, employees have the right to form or join a union, to bargain collectively with their employer, and to engage in activities designed to improve their working conditions (such as picketing or strikes). Employers cannot interfere with these rights, and they also have certain obligations under the NLRA (for example, they must bargain in good faith with unions that represent their employees).

The NLRA is enforced by the National Labor Relations Board, an independent federal agency.

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