Jeffrey Johnson is a legal writer with a focus on personal injury. He has worked on personal injury and sovereign immunity litigation in addition to experience in family, estate, and criminal law. He earned a J.D. from the University of Baltimore and has worked in legal offices and non-profits in Maryland, Texas, and North Carolina. He has also earned an MFA in screenwriting from Chapman Univer...

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UPDATED: May 4, 2012

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Legal reasons for termination may vary depending on the nature of the job. In most instances, workers are employed on an at will basis. This means they can be fired for any reason, or for no reason, as long as discrimination is not a factor in the firing. When workers are employed under an employment contract, however, acceptable reasons for termination are explained in the employment contract.

What are some common reasons for termination?

At will employment is the rule in all fifty states, unless employers and employees opt out. Under an at will employment system, a worker is permitted to quit whenever he wants and an employer is permitted to fire for any reason as long as it is not discriminatory. This means your boss could technically fire you because he doesn’t like you, because you wear the wrong color shirt to work, because you are late, or because he simply feels like it. As long as he didn’t fire you because of your race, gender, religion, disability or other protected status, all of these reasons are legal reasons.

If you opt out of at will employment, however, then you may have an employment contract that specifies the duration of your contract or relationship with the company. That contract will usually also specify offenses or behaviors that will get you terminated. The contract may not even state a specific time limit or term of employment, but if it specifies a specific procedure for terminations, that procedure must be followed in order for the termination to be legal.

Common reasons for termination specified in most employment contracts include insubordination, poor quality of work, tardiness, absenteeism, or other behaviors that would hinder your ability to do your job properly or make your work performance insufficient to meet the needs of the employer.