To be fired means the employer has terminated your employment against your will

Author: Ahmed Makki
Ahmed Makki
Ahmed Makki
I hold a BBA in Banking and Finance from LIU and a Graduate Diploma in Business Administration from Concordia university Canada. With 2+ years of experience in the asset management/financial services industry, I specialize as an AML Analyst. My skills include risk assessment, regulatory compliance, and financial analysis.
Reviewed By: Patrick Curtis
Patrick Curtis
Patrick Curtis
Private Equity | Investment Banking

Prior to becoming our CEO & Founder at Wall Street Oasis, Patrick spent three years as a Private Equity Associate for Tailwind Capital in New York and two years as an Investment Banking Analyst at Rothschild.

Patrick has an MBA in Entrepreneurial Management from The Wharton School and a BA in Economics from Williams College.

Last Updated:January 2, 2024

What Does It Mean to Get Fired?

To be fired means the employer has terminated your employment against your will. There are several reasons why business owners let go of their staff. Most people do not require good cause to discontinue employees. 

An individual is likely an at-will employee if they are not covered by a union representation agreement or employment contract. One can fire employees at any moment and without cause if employment is at will.

The majority of employers don't let people go without good cause. Most dismissals are terminations for cause, meaning that the employee was at fault and hence lost his job.

Being fired is when a situation unique to you led the firm to terminate your employment. It can be because of poor performance, misconduct, breaking business rules, late attendance, or another reason.

Regardless of what transpired, they terminated you due to a specific event. Employers decide it's not a good fit to maintain you in the role without actually deleting the position from the company.

A layoff, on the other hand, occurs when a corporation purposefully eliminates or outsources your employment (and perhaps more positions within the group/department). 

And once you go, they won't hire someone to take your place. So that is the distinction between getting fired from a firm and being laid off.

Key Takeaways

  • Getting fired means termination of employment by the employer against the employee's will. At-will employment allows employers to terminate staff without specific cause, but most dismissals are typically for cause, indicating employee fault.
  • Common reasons include poor work performance, misconduct, frequent absence, violation of company policies (e.g., dress code, social media use), drug use at work, personal use of company equipment, theft, damaging company property, fraud in company records, and insubordination.
  • Poor work performance, such as missing deadlines, needing constant supervision, or repeating work, is a common reason for termination. Companies may terminate employees for failing to perform the job adequately despite completing required training.
  • Inappropriate use of social media can lead to disciplinary action or termination. Insubordinate behaviors, like arguing disrespectfully with managers or refusing to follow orders, may result in termination, except in cases protected by federal whistleblower laws.

Reasons for getting fired

Some of the basic reasons are:

1. Poor work performance

The most frequent justification for firing an employee is poor work performance. This can refer to a variety of problems, such as:

  • Failing to perform the job correctly or adequately despite completing the required training for new hires
  • Missing deadlines
  • Needing constant supervision
  • Necessitating repetition of the work

2. Wrongdoing/Misconduct

You may face legal repercussions due to certain forms of wrongdoing and being terminated from work. Employee misbehavior includes actions like bullying, fraud, neglect, and physical or sexual harassment of clients or coworkers. 

More than 20% of workers are familiar with or have worked with someone who was terminated from their job for squandering time or annoying coworkers.

3. Absence

Your employer and coworkers will be forced to pick up the slack left by your absence to avert a loss of productivity if you frequently arrive to work late or take excessive vacation time. 

Approximately 22% of U.S. employers have terminated an employee for making an excuse of being sick, while 41% have been terminated for arriving late. Companies don't just design policies for their advantage. 

4. Company policy violation

The company's policies are frequently mandated by governmental and industry standards, and if violated, the employer will likely have no choice but to discipline you or terminate your employment. 

You should carefully review corporate standards before accepting the job to ensure their upholding. Examples include:

  • Dress code.
  • The firm's position on sexual relationships between coworkers.
  • The company's position on social media use.

5. Drug use at work

Despite California legalizing marijuana for both medical and recreational purposes, the drug is still illegal at the federal level. 

Many employers participate in the Federal Drug-Free Workplace Act. Apart from advantages for the employer, it mandates drug testing of new hires or employees at random intervals during employment and those who sustain on-the-job injuries. 

Of 14.8 million people who take drugs, roughly 70% are employed. When you use drugs or alcohol at work, you lose productivity, put yourself at risk for accidents, and most likely lose your job. 

6. Personal use of company equipment

To copy a personal document, a corporation typically grants an employee a single or restricted usage of a copier. 

However, routine personal use of copiers, office supplies, printers, and computers for your use or  "side gig" will probably be perceived as theft and may result in termination from the job.

7. Theft & Damage

Taking anything from the employer for personal use, including pens or paper, is not only a crime that can get you fired but also puts you in legal hot water. Additionally, as an employee, you are responsible for maintaining the business property. 

Your job may also be in danger if you misuse equipment like the copier, laptop used for work, and other tools.

8. Frauding company records

False information on corporate records could endanger the employee's job and potentially the organization, especially if the documents are financial or involve industry regulations. 

Even worse, giving false information puts your coworkers and clients in danger of suffering financial loss, physical harm, or even death, depending on the industry and the nature of the document.

9. Harmful use of social media

Social media is beneficial in the workplace as it helps people find the goods and services they need. It is also harmful because of the legal risks associated with its inappropriate use. 

Moreover, employees' productivity is lost when they spend lots of time scrolling on social media. 

An employee who disobeyed the company's social media policy received discipline from almost one-third of American companies, and 17 percent of businesses fired an employee owing to what they wrote online.

10. Insubordination 

Insubordinate behaviors, such as

  • Repeatedly or disrespectfully arguing with the manager or other coworkers, 
  • Refusing to obey orders from a manager, 
  • Engaging in behaviors that impede the regular flow of business,

Require drawing a firm line. 

This is true even though most employers look for employees who can think for themselves and offer ideas or insights about how to improve the workplace. 

The major exception is when a worker declines a manager's command, which would lead to a transgression of the law or public policy. 

Federal whistleblower protections often shield the employee from disciplinary action in these situations.

Signs of getting fired

There are different signs of getting fired, some of them are:

1. Lack of attention

A manager might find it difficult to appear or be approachable when bad news is imminent. 

There are only emails today and no more in-person interactions. The boss becomes more enamored of carrying out the dirty deed from a distance.

2. The fun fades

When your job is in danger, the boss stops laughing with you. 

Pay special attention if there is suddenly no funny banter or, even worse, if you are reprimanded in front of others because they are aware that they won't discuss anything serious with you.

3. No favorable presence

Your attendance is no longer required when meetings are called, and there is no email reminder either. 

4. Everything is written down

Suddenly, there is hyper-documentation on all of your matters, even the tritest, including CCing everyone in the company's universe.

Your days are probably numbered. Create your paper trail so you can convey your side, and be polite and professional in all of your correspondence.

5. No new projects

Lack of opportunity is one of the indicators that you'll get dismissed. Another is happening of exciting things everywhere except in your cubicle.

While people around who are less competent or qualified are receiving plum jobs, your requests to take on more duties are frequently declined. You may put your attention on a CV update for yourself.

6. Too many projects 

Everyone loves to feel wanted and needed, but you are set up for failure if your workload equals an impossible goal. 

Either they want you to go to avoid termination, or they are gathering proof that you are unfit for your position. You're out of luck in any case.

7. Micromanaging takes on new meaning

Observe if your manager begins to follow you like a stealthy aircraft! Or who else is being questioned about their time or regular spending like you? They may be looking for information to help commit the crime or hoping to catch you in the act.

8. A bad performance review

If you haven't been able to make improvements and solve the issues mentioned in the prior poor performance review, your employment may be in danger. 

The phrases "You're not a team player," "Your attitude needs development," or "You're not fitting into our business culture" should be avoided. 

9. Skills shutdown

Employees can grow and develop in a variety of ways under good leaders. 

Requests for workshops that might help the company improve its employees’ abilities are turned down, as it is of no use to assist the employee who is about to leave or is being terminated from the company. 

10. Weirdness abounds

You can spot definite signals that indicate you're likely to be terminated by observing how other individuals behave. Suddenly, you aren't the party's life or even invited. 

Your coworkers behave strangely around you; they avoid you in the halls and lunchroom and stop chatting when you approach. Drink invitations after work stopped coming in. You're the last to realize that the rumor mill is somehow operating nonstop.

Researched and Authored by Ahmed Makki

Reviewed and Edited by Parul Gupta | LinkedIn

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