What are my rights if my employer hired me 3 years ago knowing that I had a possession of marijuana paraphernalia charge but has just now fired me because of it?

They fired me due to this possession and cited section 19 of the FDIC and how this charge constituted a dishonest act. My employer moved me out of state earlier this year and then terminated me leaving me in a tough situation. I would not have taken the job if I knew they were going to fire me for something they already knew about (from a background check they run on me). Is there a detrimental reliance issue?

Asked on November 29, 2015 under Employment Labor Law, Arizona


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 5 years ago | Contributor

1) Unless you had a written employment contract preventing you  from being fired for this reason or in this way, they may fire you at any time, for any reason (i.e. without a contract, you are an "employee at will"), including a drug charge they already knew about.
2) Again, unless you had a written employment contract, you were an employee at will. Because an employee at will may be fired at any time, for any reason, there is no "detrimental reliance" issue or claim after 3 years: you could have been fired so many times, for so many reasons, during that span that any initial reliance is now moot. (Had this happened within 3 months, you might have had a claim.)

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