Is it illegal to fire someone via telephone with no warning?

So I had a issue with a co-worker a month ago and I went to my operations manager about her because I didn’t like my working environment due to it being hostile. I was told by my ops manager that he would take it to HR so that we can get the issue resolved. I had a issue with the same co-worker just the other day and I actually said something back to her and my ops manager sent me home for the day to “calm down” and then told me over the phone the next morning that I was fired. After, he finally went to his senior ops manager and HR but when I went to him the first time he didn’t do anything. However, when I finally said something back to that co-worker then that’s when he wanted to do something. Yet I’m the one who got fired.

Asked on February 18, 2016 under Employment Labor Law, South Carolina


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

Answered 4 years ago | Contributor

The fact is that in an "at will" employment setting, a company can hire/fire as it chooses. This means that an employee can be terminated for any reason or no reason at all, with or without notice. The exceptions to this would be if this action violates company policy, a union agreement or employment contract.
Also, the employee's treatment must not be due to some form of legally actionable discrimination. In other words, they cannot be treated differently based on their religion, race, nationality, age (over 40), disability or gender, and in some states sexual orientation. Absent such discrimination, employees need not be treated the same or even fairly.

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