What can I do if my employer terminated me without cause?

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What can I do if my employer terminated me without cause?

It had nothing to do with my job performance. He said that it was a personal thing; he no longer wanted to work with me. Now he is withholding my last 2 weeks of pay, and saying that he’ll only pay me, and my daughter (who has been doing some contract work for him, and is due a paycheck), if I sign a non-competition agreement. There are no signed contracts or agreements in place. He has never had any other employees sign anything of this nature, nor is there any company policies in place regarding this (or anything else). What can I do?

Asked on January 23, 2016 under Employment Labor Law, Michigan

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 5 years ago | Contributor

1) Unless you had a written employment contract limiting the reasons you could be fired (and most of us don't), you were an employee at will and could be termianted at any time, for any reason, without cause; this would be legal.
2) The employer may *not* however withhold your final pay to force you sign a noncompete--that is illegal, and if the employer won't pay you, you could sue for the money (e.g. in small claims court) or try filing a wage complaint with the labor department.
3) If the employer wants you to sign the non-compete after you've been terminated, they have to make it worth your while: for example, it would be common to offer you an *additional* two weeks of pay to sign it.
4) If your daughter is still working for them, they could tell her to sign or she will be fired.


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