“Can an employee be fired for giving notice (of resignation)?”

Question: I work for a company which gives elderly people care in their homes. They call themselves a “per diem” company, however, I have had a regular schedule with them for a year.

I was feeling a lot of stress lately, and so decided to give my two weeks notice. After giving my notice, I received an email stating that they thought it was in everyone’s best interests if that day was my last day.

I feel I was fired for giving my notice. Is that legal?

Portsmouth, New Hampshire 

Question: Rebecca, unfortunately, and sadly, the answer to your question is “Yes.” Unless you have a contract that says otherwise, an employer can end your employment relation – that is, fire you -  immediately because you gave “notice.” And even more unfortunately and more sadly, many employers often do just that.

It seems odd, I know. Employers want employees to be polite, respectful and considerate, and giving two weeks notice is exactly that: polite, respectful and considerate.

At the same time, many employers believe that, once an employee has decided to leave, he or she may have a negative attitude, may try to get others to leave with them, may say bad things about the company, or may do other things to hurt the company’s interests. It is for this reason, I believe, that many employers do what your employer did to you.

The reason this is “legal” is that, if you don’t have a set contract of employment, both the employer and the employee have the right to end the employment relation at any time, for any legal reason. There is no law, rule or regulation I have ever heard of that says it is illegal for an employer to end the employment relation because the employee gave “notice.”

Think of it this way: If an employer gave two weeks notice to an employee, should it be illegal for the employee to leave the job before the two weeks were up, perhaps because they felt uncomfortable? Thought of that way, it doesn’t seem too wrong, does it? Still, it doesn’t seem polite, respectful or considerate, and when an employee is being polite, respectful and considerate, you would think that would be appreciated. Sadly, it often is not.

Sorry you had such a negative experience. My suggestion: try to find an employer who appreciates the polite, respectful and considerate way you act. If you do, my sense is you will be a whole lot happier with the job, overall.

Thanks for writing in. I hope you’ll tell others about out blog.    

Best, Al Sklover

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What Your Employer Does NOT Want You to Know
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