Employment Law

Q:        Can my employer terminate me without a good reason?

A: Yes. Most employees in this country are employees at-will, which means an employer may terminate you for any reason (good or bad), as long as it is not an illegal one. On the other hand, as an at-will employee, you can quit your job for any reason at any time.

Q:        What should I do if I have been terminated?

A: Three things. Request in writing, within 10 days of your termination, the “true” reasons for your termination, and request a complete copy of your personnel file. You are entitled to both under Minnesota law. Also, contact an employment attorney.

Q:        When is an employer’s action illegal?

A: Adverse employment decisions are illegal when they violate one or more civil rights laws or other laws designed to protect employee rights. The Minnesota Human Rights Act, for example, prohibits discrimination because of an employee’s race, color, creed, religion, national origin, sex, marital status, disability, age, or sexual orientation. The Whistleblower Protection Act prohibits retaliation against employees who report violations of laws, rules, or regulations, or who refuse to participate in illegal conduct on the employer’s behalf. There are numerous federal laws that protect employees, as well. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission is responsible for enforcing some of the key laws in this area. These laws include the Americans with Disabilities Act, the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, the Equal Pay Act, and Title VII, which prohibits discrimination based on race, color, national origin, sex, religion, disability, or age.

Q:        I was fired from job, am I eligible for unemployment benefits?

A: You will not be eligible for unemployment benefits if you were terminated for employment misconduct.  Employment misconduct means any intentional, negligent or indifferent conduct, on the job or off the job (1) that evinces a serious violation of the standards of behavior the employer has the right to reasonably expect of the employee, or (2) that demonstrates a substantial lack of concern for the employment.  Examples of the type of conduct that could make you ineligible for benefits are drug or alcohol use at work, fighting, theft or a pattern of unexcused absences or tardiness.

Q:        I quit my job, am I eligible for unemployment benefits?

A: No, unless you quit for a good reason caused by your Employer.  A good reason caused by the employer is a reason (1) that is directly related to the employment and for which the employer is responsible; (2) that is adverse to the worker; and (3) that would compel an average, reasonable worker to quit and become unemployed rather than remaining in the employment. But an employee “must complain to the employer and give the employer a reasonable opportunity to correct the adverse working conditions before that may be considered a good reason caused by the employer for quitting.