Can I Be Fired Because My Boss Knows I'll Be Leaving?

At-will employees need to be careful with what they divulge

You are fired note on computer keyboard
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An AOL Jobs reader wrote:

A few months ago I told my boss that my husband moved to another state and that I will be moving two months ago but my husband did not get situated until last month. So I told her it might be the end of next month but I never gave her a resignation letter with a specific date. She went along and hired someone to replace and for her to start in two months. Last week I went to her and told her I might not be moving for three more months. She spoke to the executive director and they told me my last day will be the middle of next month and she sent a letter to HR letting them know my last day of work. My husband is upset and called and spoke to the executive director.

What do I do now to resolve the issue?


I assume you don't have a contract saying you can only be fired for cause. Assuming you don't, you're an at-will employee who can be fired for any reason or no reason at all. They can't fire you for an illegal reason, like discrimination, but can fire you for any other reason.

If your boss knows you won't be around much longer, then she can protect herself by looking for a replacement. It sounds like you actually told her you were leaving a while ago, then changed your mind. I'm a little surprised she didn't start looking then and replace you.

It isn't really fair to your boss to leave her in limbo about your plans. That means she was within her rights to hire someone to replace you and send you on your way.

In the future, I suggest you keep your plans to yourself until you are 100% sure. By dithering with the dates, yet telling her you'll be gone eventually, you alerted her that she'd soon have a vacancy. The better plan would have been to wait until you've booked the moving vans and sold the house, then give a few weeks of notice.

To sum it up:
  • No, your boss doesn't have to wait until you give notice. Once they know you're leaving, replacing you is fair game.
  • No, your boss doesn't have to let you take back your notice. If you said you were leaving two months ago, then changed your mind, then gave another date and changed your mind, you're lucky she kept you as long as she did.
  • No, you don't have to call it "notice" or anything specific. If you say you're leaving soon, you just quit.
  • Yes, they can shorten your notice. If you say you're leaving in August, they can say goodbye to you in June. They don't have to let you work out your notice period. You're terminable at-will.

Be careful what personal information you share at work. If your employer finds out you're planning on leaving, you may be out the door sooner than you think.

If you need legal advice, it's best to talk to an employment lawyer in your state, but if you have general legal issues you want me to discuss publicly here, whether about discrimination, working conditions, employment contracts, medical leave, or other employment law issues, you can ask me at AOL Jobs.

Please note: Anything you write to me may be featured in one of my columns. I won't be able to respond individually to questions.

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16 Comments

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hockey3825

Most states if you give notice, they have to still pay you up to that date even if they let you go early. Been there done that!

July 20 2014 at 3:25 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply
Manager

I agree with others. The employee actually resigned. Quite frankly, my opinion is that she had no business telling her employer about her husband until he was out there in the house and working. What if the transfer fell apart? What if he gets out there and finds that the employer misrepresented the position? What if ___________ (fill in the blank). I had an employee who got married. The couple moved to another state. (no one knew) The employee traveled to and from the new state or stayed at parents’ home when needed. The employee gave notice when a job was found in the new state. We were stunned. The department head was pissed off but many of understood why it was done that way. If it did not work out in the other state, there would at least be one person in a steady job. Once the other spouse was settle in, the employee found a job closer to home and gave notice.

July 18 2014 at 1:54 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
tgmfowler

And why is your husband calling your boss?? What are you, 12? That right there shows how immature you are! I would NEVER take a call from an employees spouse regarding termination, and I would be mortified if my husband called my employer.

July 14 2014 at 2:23 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
ral94121

My experience as an employer has been it is usually best to let an employee go as soon as s/he gives notice, if possible. S/he probably is already mentally 'out of there' already and can be a major distraction during the last couple of weeks. There are exceptions of course especially in the case of mature employees who have shown a good character and sense of duty over time.

July 09 2014 at 9:24 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to ral94121's comment
EmployeeAtty

That's a shame ral, because you are telling the employees who stay and watch you fire someone as soon as they give notice that they should not give you any notice. I'd be surprised if many of your employees give you any notice at all. If you want the basic common courtesy of notice, then you should have the basic common courtesy to let the employee work through their notice period.

July 13 2014 at 3:24 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
sugarcreekchile

This woman's expectations that her employer should accommodate her are ridiculous. She gave notice that she was quitting and a time frame for leaving. What did she expect her employer to do? Wait to hire a replacement until after she finally got around to leaving? They did what any employer would do when they know an employee will be leaving. They hired her replacement and gave the new employee a start date. Did she really expect them to tell the new hire she'd have to wait a few more months before starting or to pay 2 salaries for 1 job? This gal needs to wake up and realize that the world doesn't revolve around her.

One thing that's weird is that her husband has already moved. How long does it take to move to the city your husband is in or for him to get "situated'? My family's made several moves and it's never taken even a month for all of us to get situated in an apartment until we found a home we wanted to buy. If her husband's upset she was let go, he's sorely in need of a reality check, too.

July 09 2014 at 5:15 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
wllharrington

This is one reason to have a union.

July 09 2014 at 4:02 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply
d1anaw

I agree with the counselor. It sounds as if this person wanted the employer to keep her until she was ready to go. Kind of selfish, but not unexpected in the entitlement generation.

July 09 2014 at 12:19 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
crossroade2

Since your Employer terminated your employment, you may be eligible for unemployment benefits if you never gave formal written notice that you were leaving your job.

July 09 2014 at 9:50 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
2 replies to crossroade2's comment
d1anaw

If she quit, which is what the employer will claim, she doesn't get unemployment usually. I'd fight it. Too bad if hubby is upset.

July 09 2014 at 12:20 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply
ral94121

And if the employee is going within a month or so the lag time and requirements for unemployment doesn't make it worthwhile.

July 09 2014 at 9:27 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Derek Hernandez

That contract for being fired for "just cause" is called a union contract. Even then it wouldnt cover what she had done, because she gave due notice to her employer.

July 09 2014 at 9:27 AM Report abuse +3 rate up rate down Reply
sfrly55

Sad comment on the stupidity/sense of entitlement here, that she actually needed to have that question answered.

July 09 2014 at 8:29 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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