Washington is an at-will employment state. That means that an employer can fire an employee at any time for any reason (as long as it’s not discriminatory) or for no reason. Accordingly, unless you have an employment contract, your employer can fire you at any time. And, so long as your employer did not fire you based on your age, race, gender, religion, national origin or disability, or for filing a workers’ compensation claim or a workplace rights or safety complaint, you have been lawfully terminated. The reason given by your employer - that you did not meet the requirements of the job - is a valid, legal reason.
As to your question about notice, the Washington State Department of Labor and Industries, on their website (http://www.lni.wa.gov/WorkplaceRights/ComplainDiscrim/Termination/) answers that question: “The law does not require a business to give a worker notice before terminating their job.” Sure, it would have been nice to know that you weren’t meeting your requirements and been given an opportunity to improve, but such notice is not required.
I think that it does not speak well for your employer that you weren’t provided with a detailed job description that included measurable goals and expectations. Additionally, it would have been helpful for you to have had a performance review with some recommendations for ways to improve your job performance. However, at-will employment allows the employer to terminate an employee at their will, without constructive criticism, without second chances, and without warning.
Under this analysis, I believe that your termination was lawful. If you still feel that you may have a claim for unlawful termination, I would advise you to hire a lawyer to look into the situation and advise you of your rights.
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Not meeting their job requirements is absolutely a righteous reason to terminate you. They did not even have to tell you that much in most At Will employment states.
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The stated reason is the most legitimate of all reasons for a termination. Often this reason does not mean that the employee failed in some objectively measurable way -- such as a sales quota or timed production. Often it simply means that in any number of subjective ways the employer is not truly satisfied with the employee's performance, skills, attitude, abilities, etc. There would be no easy way for every employer to reduce all of the factors that go into a satisfactory employment relationship to written concrete criteria, and the law does not require that.
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