Is it legal if my employer fired me and has said it was due to low work performance although i did not have any verbal or written warnings?

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Is it legal if my employer fired me and has said it was due to low work performance although i did not have any verbal or written warnings?

My employer fired me and I tried to sign up for unemployment. TWC told me the employer said it was due to low work performance. When I was fired, I asked my supervisor specificaly if it was my performance and he said “no, it’s a reduction.” I didn’t have verbal or written warnings. And I was promoted a week before! The company is going through financial problems and I think they fired me because they can’t afford me and are lying so they don’t have to pay unemployment. Is this legal?

Asked on May 10, 2012 under Employment Labor Law, Texas

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

There are three different issues here:

1) Can you be fired for poor performance without any prior warnings or notice, and even following a promotion--yes. The law does not require that employers create a record  of performance issues (or provide an opportunity to correct them) prior to a performance-related termination.

2) Does the employer need a good reason to fire you, or need to tell you the actual reason for termination? No. If you do not have an employment contract, you are an employee at will, and may be terminated at any time, for any reason. The reason may be a bad one, may be based on incorrect information, and does not need to be shared with you.

3) Can the employer lie about why you were terminated to prevent you from getting unemployment benefits? No. If you were not fired "for cause"--which, by the way, usually does not mean simply that you are not performing well; it entails insubordination, violating company policy, committing wrongful acts at the company, etc.--you are entitled to unemployment compensation. So not just people who are laid off, but the vast majority of all employees who are fired, are entitled to unemployment insurance.

If you otherwise qualify for unemployment, apply for it. If the employer tries to claim you were fired for cause, you can dispute or appeal their claim. That is where evidence of good performance--the promotion, for example--will come in handy.


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