"Can The Boss Fire Me Just Because He Doesn't Like Me?"

This question was nicely answered for laypeople today by the New York Times workologist.  Readers of this blog already know the answer.

A reader wrote:  “I have a new boss who is very unfair and abrasive to everyone. Hypothetically, would he be allowed to fire me just because he doesn’t like me? And if he did, what could I do procedurally and legally to fight back?”

The workologist correctly noted that “As a legal matter, unless you have an employment contract that says otherwise, he could absolutely fire you because he doesn’t like you. Or because he doesn’t like your haircut, or for no reason at all. ”

He then discussed what we know is the major exception:  you can be fired for no reason at all as long as the firing is not based upon a protected class, such as race, religion, gender, age, disability – everything protected by federal laws such as Title VII, the ADA, the ADEA, etc. (and similar state and local laws).


His quote from a professor summed up the answer: “You do not have the right to a fair workplace. You have the right to a nondiscriminatory workplace.”

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Richard Cohen

Richard B. Cohen is a partner in the New York City office of FisherBroyles, LLP, a national law firm. Richard Cohen has litigated and arbitrated complex corporate, commercial and employment disputes for more than 35 years, and is a trusted advisor to business owners and in-house counsel both in the United States and internationally. His clients have included Fortune 100 companies, domestic and foreign commercial and investment banks, Pacific-rim corporations and real estate development companies, as well as start-up businesses throughout the United States. Email Richard at [email protected]