Reasons for a Termination of Employment

Job termination may be voluntary or involuntary.
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Employers and employees may choose to terminate employment for different reasons. An employee can voluntarily terminate his employment. Employers have the right to terminate employment for a variety of reasons or, in some cases, no reason at all. Employers and employees should know and understand the company's policies before making an employment termination decision.

Termination At-Will

    In every state except Montana, which protects employees from termination without cause after successfully completing a probationary period, employment may be terminated at-will, or without cause. At-will employees are not guaranteed employment for any length of time or other circumstances unless they have a written contract of employment. Most companies require a new employee to sign an “employment at-will” acknowledgement statement. The employment at-will policy goes both ways. Just as employers may terminate employment without cause, an employee may quit a job without a specific reason.

Termination For Cause

    While a company may have an at-will employment policy, they may also legally adopt a termination policy for just cause. The terms and conditions of the policy may vary. Infractions meriting termination may include drinking or using illegal drugs on the job, sleeping on the job, use of profanity, providing false information on a job application or resume, fighting or theft. Depending on the company policy, employees may be terminated after the first policy violation.

Poor Performance

    Employees who continually fail to meet performance standards may be fired for poor performance. Employers need to have clear job descriptions, performance standards, adequate job training and documentation to show that the employee is not performing to standards. They should also have documentation to show that the employee knew and understood job expectations and performance standards, and was given the opportunity and resources to improve his performance.


    Jobs may be eliminated because of plant closings, mergers and acquisitions or low seasonal demand. The Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act requires employers under certain circumstances to give at least 60 calendar days’ advance written notice in the case of a plant closing. This gives employees and their families time to adjust and seek other employment. Collective bargaining agreements may have also layoff notification and rehire provisions.

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