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Fired After Giving Notice. Is That Wrongful Termination?

Posted by Eric Kingsley | Oct 19, 2023 | 0 Comments

After dedicating years of effort and toil, you conclude that it's time for a new work venture. You do what's deemed professional - you give notice to leave your job gracefully. But then... you're fired after giving notice.

This abrupt termination likely has left your mind racing. Is such dismissal even legal? What about wrongful termination or severance pay?

We're about to dive into the rarely explored territory of federal laws that shield workers from abrupt firings. Plus, we'll explore whether it's fair to let someone go after they've handed in their resignation.

Table Of Contents:

Notice Periods in Employment Contracts - Wrongful Termination?

When it comes to ending employment, the notice period plays a critical role. This is typically a two-weeks' notice that lets employers prepare for your departure and transition work smoothly.

Notice periods are standard practice and often detailed within employment contracts. But what happens when this period ends prematurely?

The Importance of Notice Periods in Employment Contracts

A resignation notice serves as an alarm bell. It allows time for finding replacements or redistributing tasks among current employees. According to Statista, the average job vacancy duration was about 20 working days in 2023. Thus, giving a company's notice ensures minimal disruption.

In California though, companies have no legal obligation to honor the full weeks' notice if you decide to leave. They can let you go sooner if they choose so (company policy). Yet this could lead into murky waters of wrongful termination if not handled carefully.

If your employer fires you before your agreed-upon notice period ends without good reasons such as gross misconduct or severe performance issues then there may be grounds for contesting the decision legally.

Note: If you're wondering do you need a wrongful termination lawyer, remember that it's always wise to consult with an employment attorney if you find yourself in such a situation.

So, while navigating notice periods might seem straightforward, it's essential to understand your rights and the potential implications of not completing this period. After all, when it comes to your livelihood, knowledge is power.

Understanding At-Will Employment and Wrongful Termination

In California, most jobs are "at-will" positions. Employers and employees in California can end the work relationship without explanation or warning. But there's a catch. Despite having the ability to be let go without warning, at-will employees still have rights against wrongful termination.

The Basics of At-Will Employment

"At-will employment" might sound scary because it lets your boss terminate your job whenever they want to. Yet this goes both ways: employees also have the freedom to leave without giving their employer notice.

But just because it's standard practice doesn't mean that all terminations are legal. There exist illegal reasons for firing an employee such as retaliation for filing a workers' compensation claim or discrimination based on race, religion, sex, age or national origin

Defining Wrongful Termination

A wrongful termination occurs when an employer fires someone in violation of federal laws designed to protect employees.

If you've been fired after providing two weeks' notice and believe that your rights were violated - say if you filed a sexual harassment complaint against your supervisor last week - you may be dealing with unlawful retaliation rather than standard procedure.

If you're feeling lost, an experienced wrongful termination lawyer can step in and shed light on these tricky differences. Trust their guidance.

Additional Reading: read our examples of wrongful termination in California here

Unemployment Benefits Following Immediate Termination

Let's cut to the chase. You've given your notice, but you're shown the door sooner than expected. Now what? The good news is that unemployment benefits may be within reach.

In California, when an employer fires you before your notice period ends, it could qualify as a layoff for reasons beyond your control. This might make you eligible for unemployment benefits. These benefits kick in to help cover lost wages and tide you over until new work comes along.

But don't celebrate just yet. There are caveats - like a waiting period. For instance, there's typically a one-week unpaid waiting period after filing your claim before these perks start rolling in. 

The Waiting Period: More Than Just Time Off?

This so-called "waiting week" isn't vacation pay; think of it more as red tape on the road to receiving assistance from Uncle Sam's pocketbook. "Why?", I hear you ask with bated breath.

To put simply, this lag time allows state officials to review and approve applications effectively without rushing through important details.

Your Ticket To Unemployment Benefits

Beyond giving up two weeks' worth of income prematurely (thanks boss), being fired early doesn't necessarily rob employees working their final days out of deserved support. So whether an employee was no longer needed or deemed unreasonable by company standards shouldn't affect eligibility for relief under federal law. 

Recognizing Unlawful Retaliation and Discrimination in Termination

Understanding the line between lawful termination and unlawful retaliation can be a bit tricky. Let's start by explaining what unlawful retaliation is.

In simple terms, it's when an employer fires an employee as payback for doing something legal that the employer didn't like. This could include filing a workers' compensation claim or reporting sexual harassment.

The EEOC intervenes in cases where a worker is terminated as retribution for doing something lawful that the boss disapproved of, such as filing for workers' compensation or reporting sexual harassment. The EEOC protects employees from being fired for such reasons under federal law. And yes, even if you have given your two weeks' notice.

Detecting Discriminatory Reasons For Firing

You might question how to tell if discriminatory reasons led to immediate termination after giving notice? It's not always easy because discrimination can often hide behind legitimate-looking excuses.

An employer may say they no longer needed your services during the transition work period but consider this: Did other employees leave without incident after their two-weeks' notice? If the other employees were able to leave without issue, this could indicate something else is afoot.

Fighting Back Against Unfair Treatment

If you suspect that discriminatory motives played a part in your dismissal post-notice period ends , reach out immediately to organizations like Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). They're equipped with resources specifically designed to help victims of wrongful termination assert their rights.

Note: No one should ever lose their job due to unlawful retaliation or discrimination. Always bear in mind that the law stands with you.

Legal Advice and Support for Wrongful Termination Cases

For those facing wrongful termination, legal counsel can be invaluable in navigating the process. But when should you start interviewing attorneys? It's best not to wait until you're drowning in paperwork.

When to Consult a Wrongful Termination Lawyer

The moment you suspect your employer fired you unfairly is the right time to seek help from an employment attorney. Don't brush off any signs of illegal reasons like discrimination based on race or national origin, retaliation for filing a workers' compensation claim, or disclosing company wrongdoings - these are all good reasons that may make your termination unfair under federal laws.

You might question if getting legal help is worth it. The truth is: A knowledgeable lawyer will know how employment contracts work, what constitutes as unlawful retaliation or discriminatory practices by employers, and how federal law protects employees against such violations. Plus, they could potentially get lost wages recovered too.

A word of caution: If there's no solid evidence supporting your case (like explicit emails), don't expect miracles even with the best lawyers in town.

In addition to this practical wisdom they offer during free consultations; experienced lawyers also provide emotional support which cannot be underestimated during such stressful times. After all, being fired unexpectedly can throw anyone off balance.

The Role of Federal Laws in Protecting Employees

Federal laws play a vital role in safeguarding employees from wrongful termination. Federal laws ensure that employers cannot terminate an employee for reasons such as race, religion, or national origin which are deemed illegal.

The EEOC is a federal body that works to prevent any dismissals caused by discrimination based on age, color, disability and more. This federal agency ensures no one gets fired due to discrimination based on their age, color, disability status and more. You might say they're like the referees of the employment game.

And then there's workers' compensation claim protection under federal law too. Employers cannot legally terminate your employment if you've filed a legitimate workers' compensation claim - doing so is considered employee retaliation and could lead to hefty fines.

FAQs in Relation to Fired After Giving Notice: is That Wrongful Termination?

Can you be fired after you give notice?

Yes, an employer can let you go even if you've given your two weeks' notice. However, this could qualify as wrongful termination under certain circumstances.

Does an employer have to honor a 2 week notice?

No, employers don't need to keep employees on for the full two-week period once they receive a resignation letter.

What happens if you give two weeks notice and they ask you to leave?

If asked to leave early during your notice period, it's usually because the company wants to get started transitioning your duties over sooner rather than later.

Can a job deny your 2 week notice?

A job cannot technically "deny" a two-weeks' notice; however, they may choose not require that entire duration of service post-notice.


Fired after giving notice? Not as uncommon as we'd hope. But remember this: being fired post-resignation isn't always wrongful termination.

You've learned about at-will employment and its potential to complicate things. You know how crucial understanding your contract can be when navigating through notice periods.

Remember that unlawful retaliation or discrimination aren't just wrong - they're illegal. 

For those who have been wrongfully terminated that want assistance from experienced attorneys, give Kingsley & Kingsley Lawyers a call. Our wrongful termination attorneys have helped thousands of employees obtain compensation. Call today for your free consultation.

About the Author

Eric Kingsley

Eric B. Kingsley is a 2023 "Best In Law" Award winner and has litigated over 150 class actions. He is also an AV peer rated attorney and a prolific speaker at various seminars on employment law.


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