I live in NYC and yesterday as I was leaving my job I was pulled into the HR office without HR PERSONNEL present. I was told that after careful consideration and due to Industry changes I was being let go. I did not have much time to think of anything to ask, I was completely caught by surprise. I had NEVER been written up or counseled for my job performance, so of course I was not expecting this. I understand that there is already someone starting on Monday to fill my position.... What can I do? Can I sue ?
Employment / Labor Attorney
I am a California attorney and not eligible to give legal advice in your state. My comments are for information only, based on federal law and general legal principles. YOUR STATE MAY HAVE ITS OWN LAWS THAT PROVIDE SIMILAR OR GREATER PROTECTION. If I refer to your state's laws, that only means I did a quick Internet search and found something that appeared relevant. You should not rely on any comment I make regarding your state's law. You MUST check with an attorney licensed in your state.
I don't have good news for you. Employees have very few employment rights, and employers have a lot of leeway in how they choose to run their businesses. There is no law that says an employer must be fair or make good decisions. An employer can fire an employee -- even an excellent -- without any reason whatsoever. An employer can fire an employee for a stupid reason, a short-sighted reason, or just about any reason. There are very few things that prevent an employer from doing whatever it feels like doing. There are public policies, such as those that prevent discrimination based on a protected category (religion, race, sex, etc.); there are contracts; and there are agreements between employers and unions.
Please look at my Avvo guide to at-will employment which may help you understand your rights now and in the future: http://www.avvo.com/legal-guides/ugc/an-overview-of-at-will-employment-all-states. After reading this guide, if it looks like the employer may have violated the law, you may wish to consult with an experienced plaintiffs employment attorney in your state. To find a plaintiffs employment attorney in your area, please go to the web site of the National Employment Lawyers Association (NELA). NELA is the largest and most influential bar association in the country for attorneys who represent working people. The web site is www.nela.org, and you can search for attorneys by location and practice area.
Also, NELA has affiliates in every state and in many cities. On the NELA web site, you can look at the list of affiliates. Some attorneys will be listed in the affiliate membership list, some in the national organization membership list, and some in both. Being listed in one or both lists should not influence your selection because attorneys can choose whether or not to purchase the listing in the national directory. Each local affiliate has its own rules for listing.
I hope you can resolve your situation and wish you the best.
*** All legal actions have time limits, called statutes of limitation. If you miss the deadline for filing your claim, you will lose the opportunity to pursue your case. Please consult with an experienced employment attorney as soon as possible to better preserve your rights. *** Marilynn Mika Spencer provides information on Avvo as a service to the public, primarily when general information may be of assistance. Avvo is not an appropriate forum for an in-depth response or a detailed analysis. These comments are for information only and should not be considered legal advice. Legal advice must pertain to specific, detailed facts. No attorney-client relationship is created based on this information exchange. *** Marilynn Mika Spencer is licensed to practice law before all state and federal courts in California, and can appear before administrative agencies throughout the country. She is eligible to represent clients in other states on a pro hac vice basis. ***
It appears from your question that you live and work in New York City, so while the previous commentator is correct that as a at-will employee you can be terminated for any reason, I would contact an attorney in NYC experienced in employment law. New York City residents are protected by not only Federal and State law, but also a comprehensive City law from certain types of employment discrimination. While your question does not provide any facts that would appear to support a claim of discrimination, it is probably worth it for you to sit down with someone and discuss your situation.
If you don't know an attorney, go to www.nelany.com and search for someone in your area.
Lawsuit / Dispute Attorney
In New York, absent a contract or union bargaining agreement, an employee can be terminated at any time for any non-discriminatory reason. If you think you can demonstrate that your termination was the result of your gender, sexual orientation, race, religion or age, you should speak with an attorney. Please feel free to call to discuss.