Is it legal to fire a person without adequate grounds?

I was fired from my job of 3 years for failing to clock in/out after returning from buying lunch for myself and fellow employees. There was no prior warning or discussion. Is this legal?

Asked on September 8, 2011 under Employment Labor Law, Louisiana


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

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

I'm afraid that your firing probably was legal. In an "at will" employment arrangement, an employer can dictate the terms and conditions of employment. It can also terminate employees as it sees fit for no reason or any reason at all, with or without notice. So terminating an employee without grounds or discussion is perfectly permissible.

Exceptions to this would be if legally actionable discrimination was a factor in the employee's discharge (i.e. different treatment based on race, religion, etc), or if there is a union agreement or employment contract prohibiting their dismissal, or there is conflicting company policy on the issue.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.