The technical answer to your question is no, you do not have to answer.
The practical answer to your question is if you fail to answer, you will likely not be considered for the job.
It is not unlawful for an employer to ask about your job history all the way back to when you sold lemonade at a stand in your driveway at age 5. If you refuse to answer any lawful question on an application, the employer is fully within its discretion to reject you outright for refusing to fill in all the blanks.
Good luck to you.
This answer should not be construed to create any attorney-client relationship. Such a relationship can be formed only through the mutual execution of an attorney-client agreement. The answer given is based on the extremely limited facts provided and the proper course of action might change significantly with the introduction of other facts. All who read this answer should not rely on the answer to govern their conduct. Please seek the advice of competent counsel after disclosing all facts to that attorney. This answer is intended for California residents only. The answering party is only licensed to practice in the State of California.
Mr. Pederson hit the nail on the head. You don't "have" to provide anything. However, since employees have no legally recognized privacy interest in their employment records, a prospective employer is entirely free to reject an applicant who declines to answer a question about discharge.
On a more practical note, don't you think any reasonably intelligent employer would assume that you were fired if you refuse to answer the question? I'm not sure what you stand to gain by concealing the truth.
Good luck to you.
This answer is a general interpretation of the law and is not fact specific to your case. Likewise it does not create an attorney-client relationship. You should seek an attorney for a review of your specific facts and documents.
If you want to be considered as the head monkey, you do as the organ grinder requests. In your case, while being terminated may look like a concern, being candid may give you the opportunity to explain in in a satisfactory manner. Leaving it blank may get you file 13'd, never to be reviewed. Fudging and getting caught most assuredly will send you off to the circular file bin, either figuratively or in reality.
Of course you do not have to provide this information, but being honest on a job application is part of the interview/hiring process. You might as well be honest and be prepared to offer a logical/truthful explanation about what happened.
Lesly J. Adams has been licensed to practice law in California since 2010. The information presented here is general in nature and is not intended, nor should be construed, as legal advice for a particular case. This posting does not create any attorney-client relationship with the author. For specific advice about your particular situation, consult with your own attorney.