Can a job fire you for not taking a certification test that’s not required bystate law?

UPDATED: Sep 14, 2011

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Can a job fire you for not taking a certification test that’s not required bystate law?

My 64 year old mother is a dental assistant that has worked for the same dental practice for 25 years. Recently the practice wants all assistants to be certified and take a test that cost $350. She has explained to her employer that she only has a year left until she retires but they are trying to force her with termination if she doesn’t take it, even withholding her las review and increase from last year. Can they do this?

Asked on September 14, 2011 under Employment Labor Law, Massachusetts


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

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

Actually, your mother's employer can do this. In an "at will" employment relationship, an employer can hire/fire, promote/demote, increase/decrease salary/hours and impose most any other terms or conditions that it sees fit. For their part, an employee can continue to work for an employer or not.

This all holds true unless, this action violates existing company policy or an employment contract or union agreement. Also, if some form of actionable discrimination is a factor in such treatment.

Note:  There can be no discrimination against an employee if they are over age 40; however since all employees must take this test she would have a hard time making such a claim.

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.

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