Is it legal for a boss to fire someone via email, when the boss is out of state?

My brother was fired from a non-profit organization that he worked for, for many years. He was harassed while there, so were other co-workers, and then fired via email. He was threatened and mistreated on numerous occasions after providing his boss with his mental health records. He filed for unemployment but his boss hired an attorney and he was denied unemployment. He has chronic depression, amongst other things, and this is making it worse. What can he do, he can’t afford an attorney?! No job, no unemployment and on the verge of losing it all.

Asked on June 29, 2012 under Employment Labor Law, Colorado


Jonathan Pollard / Pollard LLC

Answered 8 years ago | Contributor

Most people in America are employed at will.  And in most instances, an employee can be terminated for any reason provided that reason does not involve some type of protected status (i.e. race, religion, gender, disability, pregnancy, etc). 

In your brother's case, it is possible that his mental health issues could constitute a disability.  This would still present a tough case.  But there have been cases involving employees terminated for mental health issues where the employee has successfully pursued a claim under the Americans with Disabilities Act.  It all depends on your specific facts and circumstances.

If someone is harassed in the workplace for reasons unrelated to those types of categories, they're options are very limited.  If the harassment is severe, they may be able to pursue a claim for intentional infliction of emotional distress.  Such a claim would require truly shocking and outrageous conduct on the part of the employer. 

With respect to the specific issue of termination via email, there is no law whatsoever that would make that illegal. 

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