Can I be terminated after being offered a full-time position for no reason?

UPDATED: Sep 30, 2022

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Can I be terminated after being offered a full-time position for no reason?

A month ago, I applied for an HR position with a home health aide agency where I would be replacing another young woman who was leaving the company. I was rushed to start which did not allow me to give a 2 week notice to my last place of employment. I worked with the Haitian Creole speaking aides and was the only person on staff who spoke Creole. During my time, I noticed mistreatment to the Haitian speaking aides so I tried even harder to be nice to them. As of the end of last week I was informed, about 30 minutes before my shift was over, that I would no longer be needed because they overhired people and there were too many employees on staff. That was clearly a lie. Plus, I was told they would fire the last person who was hired and there were 2 people hired after me, so I knew that I was just being targeted for whatever reason. I was told to return today to start working in a new department which would be temporary and then be given another position. However, I’m not here working in the new department and was just told by the VP that I would only be needed for 2 weeks then released because my services would no longer be needed by the company. While he was saying this, he was very disrespectful and condescending. I will be calling the department of labor to ask about my rights because I feel like I was not treated fairly. Do I have a case? Can I be terminated for a reason that clearly doesn’t make sense?

Asked on May 1, 2017 under Employment Labor Law, New York


M.D., Member, California and New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 5 years ago | Contributor

Did this action violate the terms of a union agreement or employment contract? If not, then you were an "at will" worker which means that you could have been fired for any reason or no reason at all, with or without notice. Basically, in such a situation, a company can set the condititons of the workplace much as it sees fit, absent some form of legally actionable discrimination. In other words, you cannot be treated in a less favorable way than your co-workers due to your race, religion, age (over 40), disability or national origin. So if you speak Creole because you are are in fact Creole and that was the sole reason for your discharge, then you may have a claim.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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