Can I be fired due to complaints made against me but not be told what they are or who made them?

UPDATED: Nov 11, 2011

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Can I be fired due to complaints made against me but not be told what they are or who made them?

I was fired today. The reason I was fired was due to several, what I think are, baseless complaints made against me. I asked if I could be told who made them/what they were but was told no. I was also not allowed to retrieve personal files off of my work computer. Are these actions legal, if not what statutes/laws do they violate?

Asked on November 11, 2011 under Employment Labor Law, Wisconsin


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

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

In an "at will" employment relationship, you can be fired for this reason, any reason, or no reason at all (with or without notice). That is unless some form of actionable discrimination was a factor in your dismissal. The fact is that an employer has a great deal of discretion is setting the terms and conditions of the workplace. You would have protection here if you had an employment contract, union agreement or even the company's own policy that may have prohibited your discharge under the circumstances.

As for retrieving your personal computer files, all files on a computer are deemed to be company property and to be used only for job-related purposes. To the extent that you put personal information on your computer, you gave up rights to ownership or even any reasonable expectation of privacy.

 Bottom line, while you may deem your treatment unfair, it was legal.

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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