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At-Will Employment Questions Answered by an Employment Attorney

Updated: Sep 2, 2022

“At-will employment” can be confusing, especially for those who have been recently terminated. Below, “at-will employment questions” are answered by an employment attorney. Each state’s laws are unique so the information below applies to the state of Maryland and the District of Columbia only.

At-Will Employment Questions Answered by an Employment Attorney

Does my employer have to give me notice that they are going to fire me?

No. In Maryland and Washington D.C. companies can fire employees at any time and without notice. This is because they are both “at-will” states. There are exceptions to this and if you think you may have one, schedule a free legal consultation with a wrongful termination attorney.

Does my employer have to write me up before firing me?

No. The “at-will statutes” make it possible to fire an employee without giving them a verbal or written warning. There may be exceptions based on a company’s own policy, a union contract, etc.

Is it legal to fire the oldest person working?

No. Age discrimination is illegal. The Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) applies to people who are 40 and older. If you fall into this category and have been terminated or are being discriminated against at work, you could have a case (click to find out).

Is an employer able to fire me if I have a doctor’s note?

Absolutely. Unfortunately, we get a lot of calls from people who were told by a doctor or a therapist not to return to work and then are subsequently fired. If you cannot work due to a disability or mental health issue, call our office to see what you can do to protect your job proactively.

If you were out sick and fired anyway, were told not to return, but were fired anyway, etc. it may have been legal. There are exceptions to this, making it important to speak with an attorney.

Can my employer fire me with only a verbal warning?

Yes. “At-will” employment makes it possible to fire someone without discussing problems or giving them an opportunity to correct them.

Can I be fired while out on FMLA?

FMLA is designed to give employees the opportunity to take leave when needed. If you request FMLA, you cannot be fired for doing so. However, an employer can fire you while you are out on FMLA. This makes communication critical. We have negotiated on behalf of clients who want to stay out on FMLA and keep their job.

Can my company fire me after I file an EEOC claim?

If you file an EEOC complaint and are then fired it could be retaliation, which is illegal. You could have a wrongful termination case.

Is my employer allowed to fire me if I get called up for military service?

No. You cannot be fired when called up for military service. If you have been, schedule a consultation with our office.

Are employers allowed to fire only women or only men?

Discrimination based on gender is illegal. So, if a company is only firing women, for example, that could be a wrongful termination case.

Can my employer fire me if I leave to go to a funeral?

Yes. An employer is not obligated to give you time off to go to a funeral and can fire you.

Is an employer allowed to fire someone with COVID-19?

The court ruled that a nurse who was fired after contracting COVID-19 could sue her employer for discrimination based on the ADA. If you contracted COVID-19 and were fired, you could have a case.

Can I be fired after a 90-day probationary period in Maryland?

Yes. You can be fired at any time, even if you have completed the probationary period. There may be exceptions if you are in a union job.

If I was assaulted at work can they fire me if I work in the District or Maryland?

This is a challenging question. The Quinn Law Group recently won a wrongful termination case where someone was assaulted at work, defended themselves, and was then fired. It depends on the situation so you should speak with an attorney.

Can my work fire me if I am the only person of color being fired?

Discrimination based on race is illegal. If you were the only person of your race fired, you could have a wrongful termination case.

Are companies allowed to fire pregnant women in Maryland?

No. The Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA) makes it illegal to discriminate in the workplace based on pregnancy status. If you are/were pregnant and were fired, you could have a wrongful termination case.

Can companies fire people because of their national origin/what country they’re from?

It is illegal to discriminate against people based on their national origin or the country they are from.

Can a company fire me because of my disability?

Laws are in place to protect people with disabilities. Contact our office to determine if you were wrongfully terminated based on your disability.

Is a company allowed to discriminate against me or fire me based on my religious beliefs?

No. Federal law prohibits discrimination based on religion.

Ask More Questions About At-Will Employment & Your Case by Speaking with an Employment Attorney

The Quinn Law Group offers free consultations. If you have been wrongfully terminated or discriminated against at work, schedule a time to have your “at-will” employment questions answered by an employment attorney.

Keep in mind that this blog is for informational purposes only and not legal advice. For that, you need to speak with an attorney. Fortunately, the Quinn Law Group offers free consultations.

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