For employers: Do I have to have a reason if I want to fire someone? For employees: Does my boss have to have a reason if he or she fires me?

No. The law does not require that a reason be stated when an employee is terminated.  However, honesty is usually the best policy.  If an employee is let go, particularly if the person has been on the job for an extended period, a brief explanation often makes good sense.  For example, a person may be terminated because there is insufficient work for him or her to do; or because the person cannot get along with other employees; or because of specific performance issues.  In cases where there are performance problems, the best practice is to document them. And often, it makes good sense to allow an employee an opportunity to cure the deficiency.  However, in certain instances (such as dishonesty or alcohol or drug abuse in the workplace), the offense may constitute such a serious matter that termination for the first incident is a proper response.  Unless there are contractual restrictions, most terminations will be judged by an “at will” standard.  In such a case, the employer has wide discretion to terminate employees and can do so for any reason – or for no reason – so long as the termination is not secretly based on improper criteria such as the employee’s race, religion, sex, sexual orientation, disability or ethnic status.

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