Can an employee be fired for refusing their boss’s demand to end a friendship with someone?

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Can an employee be fired for refusing their boss’s demand to end a friendship with someone?

I worked for employer for almost 7 years; I’ve known her for 30 years. She got a divorce. I’ve known ex-husband 15 years; he’s my neighbor. I was told not to be friends with him anymore and I could keep my job.I refused not because of the friendship, but because I felt the demand was unreasonable. I was fired.

Asked on July 21, 2011 Texas

Answers:

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

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

While highly unprofessional to say the least, it is perfectly legal for your employer to do this. The reason is that in an "at will" employment relationship an employee can choose whether or not to work for a specific employer. On the other hand, an employer can decide whether to hire or fire an employee, and what the terms of employment will are to be (including the release an employee). Therefore an employer can fire an employee for any reason (even a bad or false one), with or without notice.

The exception to this would be if such action violated specific company policy or a union/employment contract. Additionally, discrimination must not have played a factor.


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