Frequently Asked Questions About Job Termination
Deciding to fire or layoff an employee is often a tough decision. Sometimes employees have adverse reactions and retaliate if they believe the termination was unjust.
Here are some answers to common questions about termination provided by the New York Labor Law website:
Does New York State have “employment-at-will”?
New York is an employment-at-will state, which means if your employment contract has no restrictions against terminating an employee’s job, such as a union agreement, you can fire the employee for any reason and at any time. The employee can also resign without giving notice and suffer no legal repercussions. You can fire an employee for any reason or no reason at all.
However, you cannot fire an employee for reasons of discrimination based on the employee’s:
- National Origin
- Sexual Orientation
- Marital Status
Doing so violates the New York State Division of Human Rights, which is a division of the NY government that can sue you for discrimination.
Other statues, § 201-d and § 215, of the NY State Labor Law also prohibit termination based on:
- Political or recreational activities outside of work
- Legal use of consumable products outside of work
- Membership in a union
- For complaints made to the employer, Commissioner of Labor or Commissioner’s representative about provisions that are covered in the NY Labor Law.
What is your responsibility for giving terminated employees their last paycheck?
You must pay the employees’ paychecks by the regular payday for the last pay period that the employees worked. If employees request that the paycheck be mailed, the employer must mail it.
When you decide to lay off employees, must you give notice of termination?
In 2008, the NY legislature passed the New York State Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification (WARN) Act, which requires the following:
Employers in the private sector who have 50 or more employees (part-time employees excluded) must provide at least 90 days notice before closing their business. This refers to shutting down a single site of employment that results in laying off 25 or more full-time employees during any 30-day period. Employers must send a WARN notice to employees, their representatives, the State Labor Department and local workforce investment partners.
If employers are doing a mass layoff (excluding part-time employees) but not closing down the business, they must still provide at least a 90 days notice about the layoff when the layoff affects 33 percent of the workforce (at least 25 workers) or 250 workers from a single employment site. Employers must send the WARN notice to employees, their representatives, the State Labor Department and local workforce investment partners.
Stephen Hans & Associates provides decades of experience to business owners with employment related issues.