Can I be fired for having sex at work?

UPDATED: Sep 30, 2022

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Can I be fired for having sex at work?

I had sex at work with a coworker. It was completely consensual and no sexual harassment involved. We were not caught in the act and there is no physical proof at all. I came clean to my boss on my own and it was then that he fired me over the phone. Prior to that my boss had no knowledge of the situation. This was a first time and I know what I did was wrong. Was it okay for him to fire me and can I collect unemployment?

Asked on September 23, 2016 under Employment Labor Law, New York


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

Answered 6 years ago | Contributor

Why would you think that admitting to having sex at work would not be grounds for termination? A business has a legitimate interest in seeing that its employees conduct themselves in an appropariate and professional manner. In fact, most employment is "at will", which means that a company can set the conditions of the workplace much as it sees fit. Accordingly, a worker can be dismissed for the behavior that you describe, or for any reason or for no reason at all, with or without notice. Therefore, unless you had protection under the terms of a union agreement/employment contract or your discharge constitued some form of legally actionable discrimination (which it did not), your dismissal was perfectly permissable under the law.

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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