Can an employer fire me for answering a question honestly while off the clock?

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Can an employer fire me for answering a question honestly while off the clock?

After clocking out, a manager asked me if I had had “fun today.” I replied “No, not really.” My general manager overheard and sat me down to have a talk (I was off the clock during the 10-15 minute discussion). She then started to act as if she was contemplating firing me for answering that question honestly. She told me to go home, take a few days off and wait until I hear from her. She said do not call the store because that she or another manager would call me. I have reported the situation to the company’s complaint resolution hotline.

Asked on December 15, 2011 under Employment Labor Law, California

Answers:

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

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

An employer can fire an employee for this reason, any reason or no reason at all. At least if the employee is what is known as "at will" (and most are). Basically, in such an arrangment an employer can dictate the terms and condtions of employment much as it deems fit. For their part, an employee can choose to work for an employer or not.

The exceptions to the above would be if your potential termination would violate existing company policy or is prohibited by virtue of an employment contract or union agreement. Also, actionable discrimination must not play a role in your dismissal.


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