Can a employee be fired for out-of-town off-the-clock behaviors?

Out of town for work; there was an argument and one employee spit in a fellow employee’s face.

Asked on September 15, 2011 under Employment Labor Law, Iowa


M.D., Member, California and New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

An employer can legally mandate just about whatever it wants with respect to employee behavior, and can discharge an employee because certain behavior - no matter when or where it takes place. The fact is that an employer doesn't even need a reason to discharge an employee. This is known as "at will" employment. Basically, this means that an employer can dictate the terms and conditions relating to the workplace. Exceptions would be if there is conflicting company policy on the issue, or if legally actionable discrimination was a factor in the employee's termination, or if there is an employment contract or union agreement prohibiting such action.

Bottom line, your employer's action was perfectly permissible under the law.

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