Curran & Curran Law

A Boutique Employment Law Firm Representing San Diego

When is an employer permitted to fire you via phone or email?

On Behalf of | Oct 14, 2022 | Employment Law

Employees in California are often shocked to the core when their employer terminates them. Most dismissals occur in person or at least through video chatting, but what if it happens through other means like phone or email?

Getting fired by phone or email

Many California employers have contracts for employees that state that employment is at will. This means that the employment relationship can end at any time and that the employer or employee can end it. As a result of this at-will agreement, that means the employer can fire an employee as it sees fit. This can also be done over the phone, via email or even through a text message.

This doesn’t mean it’s a professional way to end the employment relationship. Termination via phone or email is not part of any company policy and could be detrimental to the morale of employees. If workers get word that a manager fired one of their professional peers over the phone, it could lead to fear and damage their productivity. Other employees might begin to look over their shoulders, worrying that they’ll be next.

Wrongful termination

There might also be a question of whether the individual was illegally terminated. Typically, firing entails a professional procedure with the employee meeting with someone in human resources (HR) and filling out paperwork, learning about the impact on their benefits and more. In a situation of wrongful termination, it’s more likely that someone fires an employee over the phone, via email or through a text message. That way, they circumvent an employee meeting with HR to discuss the situation.

Wrongful termination also means that someone fired an employee for an illegal reason, such as discrimination or retaliation for making a complaint. In that situation, the employee has rights and might be able to hold the employer accountable.

If an employer fires someone via phone or text, it stands unless there’s an underlying, illegal reason behind the termination.