Is it legal to terminate an employee over their personal associations?

I was hired by an employer, with an at-will contract in place. Then 3 weeks prior to my start date, the employer learned I was friends with a girl he was dating. They got into an argument and the employer told my friend that he would be firing me. There were a few other threatening remarks made by the employer, including how he hoped I have already put my resignation in with my current employer, so I’d be out of a job. And how he would call my current employer and sabotage me if I hadn’t already resigned. What rights do I have, federally and in the state, if he follows through with any of these retaliatory threats? What should I be doing right now to protect myself?

Asked on December 16, 2016 under Employment Labor Law, Michigan

Answers:

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

Answered 4 years ago | Contributor

In an "at will" work arrangement, an employee can be terminated for any reason or no reason at all. Basically, a company can set the conditions of employment much as it sees fit. The exceptions to this would be if some form of legally actionable discrimination is the reason for a worker's treatment (which does not seem to be the case here) or if it would violate the terms of a union agreement or employment contract (which is not the case here). That having been said, if this would-be employer contacts your current job, depending on what is said, they could be opening themselves up to a personal injury lawsuit.


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