Can an employer dismiss an employee on wrongful terms and also intiate investigations without informing an employee?

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Can an employer dismiss an employee on wrongful terms and also intiate investigations without informing an employee?

Can the investigation be ongoing without any results or information provided to that ex-employee?

Asked on March 29, 2012 under Employment Labor Law, Pennsylvania


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

1) If you did not have an employment contract, you were an employee at will. An employee at will may be terminated at any time, for any reason, so in  sense, there is no  "wrongful termination" of an employee at will.

2)  The exception to the above is that an employer may not terminate an employee at will--

a) For one of the types of discrmination specifically made illegal by the law; the main types (illegal under federal law) are discrimination on the basis of race, religion, age over 40, sex, or disability. (This does not mean, for example, than an older or minority employee cannot be fired--just that he or she cannot be fired because he or she is older or a minority).

b) For using a protected benefit, like FMLA leave.

c) For bringing a protected claim or complaint, such as for overtime or that the employee suffered illegal discrimination.

d) For bringing certain safety or legal violations to light.

Other than this, though, an employee at will could be terminated for any reason.

3) Generally, an employer may investigate an employee and does not need to tell him/her it is doing that, and does not need to share the results with the employee.

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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