Can you be fired for having an affair?

UPDATED: Aug 23, 2011

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Can you be fired for having an affair?

A friend works on a construction site, and got involved sexually with a woman that also works there. His wife went to his boss and my buddy confessed. His boss threatened him that if it happened again then he would be fired. Can they do that? It seems like personal business.

Asked on August 23, 2011 Pennsylvania


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

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

While personal business, the company can make it its business. It's called at-will employment. In such an employment arrangement, an employee can work for an employer or not, their choice. In turn, an employer can hire or fire and set the terms and conditions of the workplace as it sees fit. This means that an employer can discharge an employee for any reason (even a bad one) or for no reason at all.

That having been said, an employee can have certain workplace protections if they have an employment contract or union agreement. Additionally an employer cannot violate its own existing company policy, nor can it engage in actionable discrimination against employees.

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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