If an employer decided they have been paying some employees too much, can they fire them?

I’ve worked at my job for 16 years. My employer has given me and others raises every year and now there is talk of firing us and giving us a tiny severance. If

they gave us the raise then how can they legally fire us for getting paid too much?

Asked on October 8, 2018 under Employment Labor Law, Missouri


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

Answered 2 years ago | Contributor

Do you have a written employment contract or union agreement that governs the circumstance regarding termination? If not, then you are an "at will" worker. This means that absent some form of legally actionable discrimination, you can be discharged for any reason or no reason at all. 

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 2 years ago | Contributor

If employees don't have a written employment contract (including union agreement) protecting or guarantying their jobs, they are "employees at will." Employees at will may be terminated at any time, for any reason, whether fair or not--including that an employees feels it has been paying them too much. Without the protection of an in-effect (unexpired) written contract, you can be fired for this reason, as wrong as it seems.

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