Can I be fired for having a non-physical affair with a co-worker?

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Can I be fired for having a non-physical affair with a co-worker?

I’ve sexted a co-worker on a personal cell phone outside of work and we had an emotional affair but never consummated it physically. Can my employer fire me for behavior outside the office? I never worked more hours and my work product had never been affected.

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

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

Do you have an employment contract or agreement guarantying or protecting your employment, setting forth limited grounds for termination, or setting forth a process which must be followed for termination? If you do, that contract is enforceable and may protect you. However, in the absence of such a contract, you would most likely be considered an employee at will and may be fired at any time, for any reason--including behavior outside the office. Note that many companies either have explicit non-fraternization policies, or even if they don't have such official policies, will terminate employees whose behavior or relationships they feel endangers moral or imposes risks of liability.


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